The last President of South Africa during the apartheid era, FW de Klerk, died on Thursday after a long illness, his Foundation said.
“The former President passed away earlier this morning at his home in Cape Town after battling cancer at the age of 85,” said Klerk FW Foundation spokesperson Dave Steward.
De Klerk, a key player in the country’s transition to democracy, served as head of state from September 1989 to May 1994 and became one of the country’s two vice-presidents after the first multiracial democratic elections in April 1994.
Son of a senator and Minister of the National Party dissolved in 2005, De Klerk entered Parliament in 1972 after having trained as a lawyer.
He was appointed to the Cabinet of Prime Minister John Vorster in 1978 and has held various portfolios, including that of Minister of National Education.
He succeeded PW Botha as head of the National Party in February 1989, after the latter suffered a stroke and resigned from the leadership of the party.
The 1993 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to De Klerk and Nelson Mandela, who the following year became the country’s first democratically elected president.
De Klerk became the first opposition leader after the elections and led his national unity government party in June 1996. He retired from politics in August 1997.
SL (with MAP)