Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Imprisonment of Nelson Mandela in South Africa


July 18, 1988


Today is the 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela. For the last 26 years, Mr. Mandela, a preeminent figure in the struggle against apartheid, has been imprisoned in South Africa. He is widely recognized as the embodiment of black aspirations in South Africa, and while he and other political leaders remain in prison, South African Government plans for political reform are not likely to gain any significant support from the black community.


On the occasion of his 70th birthday, we renew our appeal to the Government of South Africa to release Nelson Mandela and the other political prisoners. Their release would contribute greatly to creating an environment that could foster serious broad-based negotiations for the abolition of apartheid and the establishment of a nonracial democracy in South Africa.