South Africa’s Last Apartheid President F. W. De Klerk Dies At 85
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — F.W. 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 against cancer at his home in the Fresnaye area of Cape Town, a spokesman for the F.W. de Klerk Foundation confirmed on 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 saw his efforts to end apartheid as a betrayal.
It was de Klerk who in a speech to South Africa’s parliament on Feb. 2, 1990, announced that Mandela would be released from prison after 27 years. The announcement electrified a country that for decades had been scorned 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-solid economy deteriorating, de Klerk, who had been elected president just five months earlier, also announced in the same speech the lifting of a ban on the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid political groups.
Amid gasps, several members of parliament members left the chamber as he spoke.