In his customary autocratic style, P. W. Botha, the head of South Africa's government for ten tumultuous years, insisted on presiding over the end of his own era. He refused to allow his successor, F. W. de Klerk, to arrange a dignified transition and, after a dispute over prerogatives, departed the political stage trailing bitter complaints of mistreatment. The manner of Botha's departure served to underscore the heavy-handed rigidity of his administration and to increase the sense of relief and hope that greeted South Africa's new president.
De Klerk, 53 years old, a scion of the flinty voortrekker country of northern
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