South Africa‘s last white president Frederik Willem (FW) de Klerk died on Thursday morning at his home in Cape Town, the FW de Klerk Foundation said in a statement.
“Former President FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer,” the statement said.
He has been diagnosed with cancer this year, a spokesman said.
The last leader of apartheid South Africa, de Klerk shared the peace prize in 1993 with his successor Nelson Mandela. De Klerk was the one who released Mandela from prison.
Who was FW de Klerk?
A conservative politician whose party had long supported apartheid.Mr de Klerk, who was also a key figure in the nation’s transition to democracy.
Recognizing the impending possibility of civil war, he surprised his political clan by freeing Mandela.Along with legalizing the African National Congress. In 1993, de Klerk and other leaders ratified a new constitution. The new constitution formally ended decades of racial segregation in South Africa.
De Klerk ultimately lost South Africa’s first multiracial election to Mandela, before taking a post in the new government.
But after retiring from politics he made a number of conflicting comments about the era he helped bring to an end, and his legacy as a Nobel laureate at times proved controversial.
Mr de Klerk was head of state between September 1989 and May 1994.
In 1990 he announced he was releasing anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, leading to multi-party polls in 1994
FW de Klerk had taken over from PW Botha as the head of the National Party in February 1989. Following year announced he was removing the ban on parties that included Mr Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC).
He became one of the country’s two deputy presidents after the multi-party elections in 1994.