De Klerk’s reforms laid the foundation that aided the fight for democratic rule in South Africa after years of apartheid rule.
Former South African President Frederik Willem De Klerk, the last leader under apartheid and a pivotal actor in the country’s shift to democracy, has died, his foundation has announced.
The FW De Klerk Foundation said in a statement on Thursday:
“FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer.”
He was 85 year old. De Klerk had announced his diagnosis on his 85th birthday, on March 18 this year. He is survived by his wife Elita, children Jan and Susan, and grandchildren.
“The family will, in due course, make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements,” the statement also said.
Nelson Mandela and De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for driving the “miracle” transition from white rule in South Africa. The Afrikaner created reforms that lifted the ban on the African National Congress (ANC) as well as other anti-apartheid groups, and authorised the release of political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela. It also put a suspension on the death penalty.
De Klerk studied law before being elected to parliament as a member of the National Party that instituted apartheid. He would go further to hold numerous ministerial positions before becoming president in 1989, a position he held until he handed over the mantle to Mandela after the first democratic elections in 1994.
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