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    South Africa's Prime Minister, Mr John Vorster, announced his retirement on Wednesday (20th September). He?

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    South Africa's Prime Minister, Mr John Vorster, announced his retirement on Wednesday (20th September). He told newsmen in Pretoria that his state of health no longer allowed him to fulfill the strenuous duties as leader of the country. But Mr Vorster, who is 62, said he was willing to stand for the vacant post of President.

    SYNOPSIS: Cape Town, 1966, and Mr Vorster emerges from the Senate building where he had been elected unanimously by the ruling National Party as Prime Minister to succeed his assassinated predecessor, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd.

    Though Mr Vorster retained, after 12 years in office, the support of most which South Africans, his internal policy of Apartheid left him with few friends in the world, even fewer in Africa. One leader with whom Mr Vorster had close ties was Rhodesia's Prime Minister, Ian Smith. Both men faced one overriding common problem -- how to deal with black majority.

    Rhodesia recently concluded an internal settlement, involving power sharing, but Mr Vorster's party formulated a different solution for South Africa.

    That solution involves the setting up of black homelands. In 1974 Mr Vorster met the leaders of the country's homelands for the first time in conference. His National Party intend that eventually South Africa will have no black citizens, and this will be achieved by granting the homelands independence as totally separate nations.

    Three years later the first of the homelands, the Transkei, became independent. Mr Vorster visited the country in January last year. A second homeland, Bophuthatswana, has since gained independence. But apart from South Africa, no country yet recognises the two states. Despite this, and the decision this year of the Transkei to sever diplomatic relations with South Africa, Mr Vorster's underlying strategy remained unchanged.

    During his term in office Mr Vorster, regarded politically as a tough, implacable man, little involved with his own emotions, consistently maintained the stance that South Africa should be left to deal with its own affairs, from outside interference. Now, observers believe the National Party will be looking for a successor to continue this policy.

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