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    People at press conference, 24'

    Mr Bottomley reads prepared statement.

    "Our visit to Rhodesia had a double purpose, for discussions with the government of Rhodesia and to hear the views of all sections of the community. We have had talks with members of all political parties, and representatives in all walks of life. Our main impression is of hardening of attitudes among both Europeans and Africans. Some Europeans have told us that they consider independence to be such an urgent necessity that it must be taken unilateraly and unconstitutionally if it can't be acquired urgently by negotiation. But many white Rhodesians are not of this opinion.

    "The chiefs emphasised the importance of their position as the traditional leaders of their people. They saw themselves threatened by the activities of a younger generation of politically active young Africans, and they and their people have suffered intimidation and violence. The chiefs say that the right course is to cut the strings with Britain right away. The African nationalists of both the Zapu and Zanu parties who repudiated the 1961 constitution, demand that the British government call an immediate ??? to device a new constitution, based upon one man one vote, in their view the British government should intervene in Rhodesia affairs, if necessary with armed force to establish majority rule."

    He goes on to explain the British policy in Rhodesia.

    "First we wish emphatically to repudiate the allegation that the policy of the British government is to impose immediate majority rule upon Rhodesia. The principle of eventual rule was accepted by the electorate of Rhodesia when they approved the 1961 constitution. What is at issue is how long the transition to majority rule will take and what the timing of independence should be. Any attempt by the government to impose unilaterally a solution to these problems would violate the 1961 constitution, also the established convention that parliament at Westminster should not legislate upon matters within the competence of the legislative assembly of Rhodesia. The granting of independence is under the constitution a matter for the British government and parliament."

    "In seeking a peaceful transition to majority rule the Britain government doesn't stipulate how it might be achieved, and British government are completely opposed to unlawful and unconstitutional acts of all kinds. During our talks with the African nationalists leaders we made it clear to them that the British government utterly condemned the intimidation and violence which has been taking place mainly by Africans against Africans. These leaders told us that they were opposed to the use of such methods. We also explained to them that Britain could not herself act unconstitutionally, whether by armed force or otherwise, to change the constitution. And it would be useless to her to call a constitutional conference unless all parties concerned were willing to attend it. We have made equally clear the opposition of the British government to unconstitutional action in the form of a unilateral declaration of independence. The fault of such action has already drawn from the British prime minister a warning of its inevitable consequences.

    We believe that the greatest danger to the people and prosperity of Rhodesia at the present time is the strength of a unilateral declaration, and we have made our view known to the Rhodesian government. We return to London to report to the British cabinet, and in doing so we are deeply conscious of the hopes of Rhodesians of all colours and classes, that despite the hardening of attitudes some way forward can be found, some things to reassure both those Africans who at present feel themselves denied full political and human rights, and those Europeans who fear losing what they have earned and won. And we believe that all concerned must now address themselves to a sober search for ways by which present uncertainty can be removed and by which current dilemma's can be resolved constitutionally and honourably and by which the common goal for independence can be achieved."


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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