Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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FW de Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid president, dies at 85

FW de Klerk, the last white president of South Africa, has died at the age of 85.

He came to power in 1989 under apartheid system but later became a key figure in the transition to democracy.

He ordered Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, leading to historic polls where the anti-apartheid leader became the first black president.

De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for helping to negotiate an end to apartheid.

He retired from politics in 1997, saying: “I am convinced it is in the best interest of the party and the country.”

After his death, the FW de Klerk Foundation released a video recording dubbed his “final message”, in which he talks about apartheid.

“Let me today, in the last message repeat: I, without qualification, apologise for the pain and the hurt, and the indignity, and the damage, to black, brown and Indians in South Africa,” he says.

The foundation said De Klerk had died peacefully at his home following his struggle against mesothelioma – a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs.

Reacting, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said De Klerk’s death “should inspire all of us to reflect on the birth of our democracy”.

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