South Africa’s last white president FW de Klerk dies at 85
JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 11 (Reuters) – South Africa’s last white president, Frederik Willem (FW) de Klerk, who negotiated a peaceful transfer of power to a black-led government under Nelson Mandela, died Thursday in l ‘age 85 after battling cancer, her foundation said.
De Klerk was celebrated around the world for his role in suppressing apartheid and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993. The following year Mandela won South Africa’s first multiracial elections. with its African National Congress (ANC).
But de Klerk’s role in the transition to democracy remains hotly contested more than 20 years after the end of apartheid.
Many blacks were angered by his failure to curb political violence in the turbulent years leading up to the multiracial elections of 1994, while right-wing white Afrikaners, who had long ruled the country under de Klerk’s National Party, the considered them a traitor to their cause of white supremacy.
“Former President FW de Klerk passed away peacefully at his home in La Fresnaye earlier this morning following his battle with mesothelioma cancer,” the FW de Klerk Foundation said in a statement Thursday morning.
He was diagnosed in March with mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the tissues that line the lungs.
“He is survived by his wife Elita, children Jan and Susan and grandchildren,” the foundation said, adding that the family would make an announcement regarding the funeral arrangements in due course.
De Klerk, who was treated for a lung disease called pneumothorax in 2018, sparked anger in 2020 when he told a national broadcaster he did not believe apartheid was a crime against humanity, as the United Nations has declared it.
Reporting by Promit Mukherjee and Wendell Roelf; Editing by Emma Rumney, Jon Boyle and Gareth Jones
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.