South Africa’s last apartheid president FW De Klerk dies.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) – FW de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela and as South Africa’s last apartheid president oversaw the end of the country’s white minority rule, has died at the age of 85.
De Klerk died after a battle with cancer at his home in Cape Town’s Fresnaye area, a spokesperson for the FW de Klerk Foundation confirmed Thursday.
De Klerk was a controversial figure in South Africa, where many blamed him for violence against blacks and anti-apartheid activists during his time in power, while some whites viewed his efforts to end apartheid as treason.
It was de Klerk who, in a speech to the South African parliament on February 2, 1990, announced that Mandela would be released from prison after 27 years. The announcement electrified a country that for decades had been despised and sanctioned by much of the world for its brutal system of racial discrimination known as apartheid.
With South Africa’s isolation deepening and its once-robust economy deteriorating, de Klerk, who had been elected president just five months earlier, also announced in the same speech the lifting of the ban on the African National Congress and other groups. anti-apartheid politicians.
Amid gasps, several members of parliament left the chamber as he spoke.
Nine days later, Mandela was released.
Four years after that, Mandela was elected the country’s first black president, as blacks voted for the first time.
By then, de Klerk and Mandela had been awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for their often tense cooperation in moving South Africa away from institutionalized racism and closer to democracy.