OSLO, NORWAY – DECEMBER 10: Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, the South African President, receive the Nobel Peace Prize at the City Hall in Oslo, Norway on December 10, 1993.
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FW de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela and, as South Africa’s last apartheid president, oversaw the end of white minority rule in the country, died at the age of 85.
De Klerk died after battling cancer in his home in the Fresnaye district of Cape Town, a spokesman for the FW de Klerk Foundation confirmed on Thursday.
It was de Klerk who, in a speech to the South African parliament on February 2, 1990, announced that Mandela would be released from prison after 27 years. The announcement electrified a country that for decades had been despised and sanctioned by much of the world for its brutal system of racial discrimination known as apartheid.
Given South Africa’s increasing isolation and the deterioration of its once solid economy, de Klerk, who had been elected president only five months earlier, also announced in the same speech that the ban on the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid groups would be lifted.
Several MPs left the room gasping as he spoke.
Mandela went free nine days later.
Four years later, Mandela was elected the country’s first black president when blacks first voted.
For their often tense collaboration to move South Africa away from institutionalized racism and towards democracy, de Klerk and Mandela received the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.