JOHANNESBURG : A Test for De Klerk

The National Party, which ruled South Africa as a white dominion from 1948 until it negotiated itself out of power and allowed all-race elections last April, hopes to revitalize and redefine itself at a three-day national convention beginning Thursday in Johannesburg.

The task of Frederik W. de Klerk, party leader and one of two deputy presidents under South Africa's new leader, Nelson Mandela, will be to raise the NP's nearly invisible profile in the unity government dominated by Mandela's African National Congress. Party stalwarts want De Klerk to function more as an opposition leader in the post-apartheid era.

De Klerk, the country's last white president, has largely disappeared from view and spent much of the year traveling abroad.

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