Former South African President Frederik Willem De Klerk, the last leader under apartheid and a key actor in the country’s transition to democracy, has died, his foundation has announced.
“Former President FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer,” the FW de Klerk Foundation said in a statement on Thursday.
He was 85 years old.
Together with Nelson Mandela, De Klerk oversaw the end of white-minority rule in South Africa.
In February 1990, he delivered a speech at the the county’s Parliament, announcing sweeping reforms that marked the beginning of the negotiated transition from apartheid to democracy.
The reforms lifted the ban on the African National Congress (ANC) and other anti-apartheid organisations, and authorised the release of political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela. It also put a moratorium on the death penalty.
The speech marked the official end of segregation policies and the start of the negotiations that led to a constitutional democracy with equal rights for all South Africans. AlJazeera