Death of Frederik Willem de Klerk, last white president of South Africa

The last white president of South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk, died Thursday at his home in Cape Town at the age of 85, his foundation announced.
The man who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with Nelson Mandela, the first black president of the Rainbow Nation, died of cancer.
Born in 1936 in Johannesburg to a family of influential Afrikaners, de Klerk rose through the ranks of the then whites-only political system to become president. He ruled South Africa from 1989 to 1994.
Less than three months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he paved the way for the end of more than four decades of apartheid with a resounding speech to Parliament on February 2, 1990, announcing the release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison.
De Klerk had kept this momentous decision secret from all but a handful of ministers. Even his wife was kept in the dark until she and de Klerk went to Parliament.
At de Klerk’s 70th birthday celebrations in 2006, Mandela was full of praise for his predecessor for taking this leap into the political unknown.
“You showed courage that few have done in similar circumstances,” said Nelson Mandela, who died in December 2013 at the age of 95, less than six months before the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first multi-racial elections.