FW de Klerk, the last apartheid leader in South Africa to liberate Nelson Mandela, dies at the age of 85

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De Klerk released his subsequent successor, Mandela, and laboriously negotiated a transition to democracy with him, ending the decades-long apartheid system that put South Africa’s white minorities in power for generations Black majority ethnicity.

The two shared the Peace Prize in 1993 for their efforts to end this policy, but De Klerk, who had served in a pro-apartheid government, seemed unwilling to condemn it explicitly after he retired. —Still a divisive figure in the South. Africa long after he left politics.

The FW de Klerk Foundation stated on Thursday that De Klerk died of mesothelioma cancer at his home in Fresnaye.

De Klerk is a very conservative politician whose party has long supported apartheid, which surprised his political family and became an unlikely change agent in South Africa during his five-year rule of South Africa.

In a historic speech at the opening of the parliament in 1990, he effectively announced the beginning of a new country, demonstrating to the shocked country that he would release Mandela, legitimize anti-apartheid groups, end the state of emergency and pass Negotiations to end apartheid. Inequality within the country.

De Klerk’s political transformation was triggered by the deteriorating racial tensions and the upcoming civil war, which led to him being regarded as a “traitor” by some conservative lawmakers.

This also marked the beginning of a long and tense negotiation, during which De Klerk and Mandela developed a complex relationship that sometimes resembled friendship, but more often became tense, painful and hostile. .

In 1993, De Klerk and other leaders approved a new constitution, officially ending decades of apartheid in South Africa.

De Klerk lost to Mandela in South Africa’s first multi-ethnic, fully democratic election, and then assumed office in the new government.

But after retiring from politics, he made many conflicting comments about the era he helped end, and left a complicated legacy in South Africa.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu paid tribute to his compatriots on Thursday, saying that he “recognized the moment of change and showed a willingness to act.”

A statement from Tutu’s office said: “The former president occupies a historic but difficult space in South Africa.” “Although some South Africans find Mr. De Klerk’s global recognition unacceptable, Mr. Mandela himself praised him. The courage to witness the country’s political transformation.”

The country’s current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said in a cautious statement that De Klerk’s move to end apartheid was a “brave decision”.

He said: “In the 25th week before the promulgation of our democratic constitution, the death of Vice President De Klerk should inspire us all to reflect on the birth of our democracy and our common responsibilities to be true to the values ​​of our constitution.”

In 1994, De Klerk lost the first multiracial election in South Africa at a school election rally.

‘Convert’

Born in Frederik Willem de Klerk (Frederik Willem de Klerk) and grew into a famous family of white South African politicians-his father Jan de Klerk (Jan de Klerk) was a conservative in the 1960s He sent a political heavyweight and briefly became the acting president in 1975-FW de Klerk (FW de Klerk) served as a lawyer as a politician before serving as a minister.

Given his pedigree and firm conservatism, he is more widely regarded as an obstructor rather than a revolutionary.

But the cruel reality of apartheid led to violence, displacement and growing opposition, and De Klerk finally realized that he needed to change course.

He described himself as a “converter” in an interview with CNN in 2012. “The goal is to separate but equal, but separate but equal fails,” he added. “When the wind of change blows across Africa, we should follow the trend sooner.”

In 2004, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu (left) with FW de Klerk (center) and Nelson Mandela.

Despite this, De Klerk created a complex legacy during his administration and after his retirement.

In the same interview in 2012, De Klerk was vague about whether apartheid was a morally offensive policy, which caused anger. “I can only say it in a qualified way…There are many aspects that are morally untenable,” he said.

Last year, after De Klerk claimed that apartheid was not a crime against humanity in an interview with South African Public Broadcasting Corporation SABC, his foundation issued an apology statement.

He told CNN that by 2012, he and Mandela were “close friends.” “There is no hostility between us. Historically speaking, there has been,” he said.

“There is still a halo around him. He is indeed a very dignified and very admirable person,” De Klerk added shortly before Mandela’s death next year.

De Klerk occasionally re-enters the political discourse after leaving office. He reunited with Mandela during his tenure as the delegation that helped South Africa win the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a major event that allowed the country to become the focus of global attention within a month.

He also freely expressed his views on modern South African politics; in 2012, he told CNN that “transition takes time” in South Africa, and added: “I believe this is a solid democracy, and it will always be. But it is not a healthy democracy.”

After Jacob Zuma stepped down as president in 2018 and was replaced by Ramaphosa, De Klerk stated that the country is in “good hands.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated on Thursday that “De Klerk will be remembered for his steely courage and realism when he is doing the obvious right and making South Africa a better country”, and Added that he felt “sad” about his death.

Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin added: “His vision together with Nelson Mandela shaped a new South Africa.”

De Klerk’s first wife, Malik De Klerk, was murdered in 2001 after three years of divorce. He used to occasionally be in poor health, and his foundation revealed his diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer.

His wife, three children and grandchildren survived.

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