Frederick Willem de Klerk, the last apartheid-era president in South Africa and a key player in the state during the transition to democracy, has died at the age of 85 after a battle with cancer. De Klerk, who was head of state between September 1989 and May 1994, was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, his foundation announced.
“Former FW President de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Cape Town earlier in the morning after a battle with cancer,” said the Foundation, which bears his name. De Klerk has been a controversial figure in South Africa. He has been blamed for violence against Africans of color while being seen by white people as a traitor.
De Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, along with Nelson Mandela for their efforts to unite a divided state after decades of apartheid. De Klerk ordered Mandela’s release in 1990, after 27 years in prison. Mandela later became the president of South Africa, at the same time the first leader of color.
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