President P.W. Botha suffered a mild stroke Wednesday and was admitted to a military hospital. His office said he was "clear-minded" and might appoint a temporary replacement.
Officials said Botha, who turned 73 last week, was in stable condition at No. 2 Military Hospital in the Cape Town suburb of Wynberg. His office said no further medical statements would be issued unless the president's condition worsened.For the most part Botha has enjoyed excellent health since he took charge of South Africa's white-controlled government as prime minister in 1978. Under a new constitution, he became president in 1984.
Botha's wife of 46 years, Elize, and some of their five children came to the hospital in Wynberg to be with the president. The state-run South African Broadcasting Corp. said Botha suffered the stroke early in the morning while he was at his home.
Botha's office said the president remained in charge of the country "along with the rest of the Cabinet." Botha's staff initially said the Cabinet would meet to consider naming an acting president, but later his office said Botha was "quite clear-minded" and was likely to make the appointment himself on Thursday.
According to South Africa's Constitution, the president can appoint a Cabinet minister to fill in for him temporarily. If the president is incapacitated, the Cabinet can elect one of its members as acting president.
Among those mentioned as possible successors are Foreign Affairs Minister Pik Botha, who is not related to the president; National Education Minister F.W. de Klerk; Constitutional Development Minister Chris Heunis; and Defense Minister Magnus Malan.