The National Party, dissolved three years ago, has re-registered with the electoral commission ahead of the 2009 general election, a party spokesperson said on Monday.

The party that imposed apartheid on South Africa suffered a protracted demise under FW De Klerk's successor in the guise of the New National Party.

However the NP has regrouped ahead of the elections, expected in April, as "a modern and inclusive party that steers away from race politics".

Spokesperson Jean Duval-Uys said on Monday the party had engaged previous members and supporters of the old NP, including De Klerk, who did not mind the party being revived, although he would not take part.

The NNP lost its last Member of Parliament when Marthinus van Schalkwyk dissolved the party in 2005 to join the ANC Cabinet of President Thabo Mbeki.

Once a symbol of segregated South Africa, the end of the NNP was described by Mbeki as an "unavoidable decision that the time had come to lay the ghost of the party to rest".

Van Schalkwyk's decision left a gap in opposition politics that the reconstituted NP hopes to fill at a time when voters are increasingly disenchanted with the ANC.

"We are trying to restore that balance to have a real strong opposition for the ANC," said Duval-Uys.

Duval-Uys said the party would be run by a collective, to avoid a white or black face setting the tone, and is looking at eventually having four ceremonial leaders of different races.

The party will field 175 candidates in the coming election and will be officially re-launched on November 23. - Sapa-AFP