Mandatory Credit: Photo by Filip Singer/EPA/REX/Shutterstock (7969723c) Former South African President Frederik Willem De Klerk Attends International Conference Forum 2000 in Prague Czech Republic 16 September 2013 the Sixteenth Annual Forum 2000 Conference Convene Global Leaders From Politics Academia Religion Business and Civil Society Are Meeting to Discuss Key Issues Facing Civilization the Forum 2000 Foundation was Founded in 1996 by Czech President Vaclav Havel Japanese Philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel According to the Organization the Main Objective of Its Conferences is 'To Identify the Key Issues Facing Civilization and to Explore Ways to Prevent the Escalation of Conflicts That Have Religion Culture Or Ethnicity As Their Primary Components Czech Republic Prague Czech Republic Business Forum - Sep 2013
The 85-year-old shared the Nobel Peace Prize with his successor, Nelson Mandela, for their work in dismantling the racist regime (Picture: Shutterstock)

South Africa’s last apartheid president who oversaw the end of white minority rule has died.

FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Cape Town on Thursday following a battle with cancer.

The 85-year-old shared the Nobel Peace Prize with his successor, Nelson Mandela, for their work in dismantling the racist regime known as apartheid.

It was Mr De Klerk who announced in a now historic speech in 1990 that Mr Mandela would be released from prison after 27 years.

This electrified a country that for decades had been scorned and sanctioned by much of the world for its brutal system of racial discrimination.

With South Africa’s isolation deepening and its once-solid economy deteriorating, Mr de Klerk – who had been elected president five months earlier – also announced the lifting of the ban on the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid political groups.

Amid gasps, several members of parliament left the chamber as he spoke.

Nine days later, Mr Mandela walked free.

Four years after that, Mr Mandela was elected as the country’s first black president as black people voted for the first time.

By then, Mr de Klerk and Mr Mandela had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their often tense co-operation in moving South Africa away from institutionalised racism and towards democracy.

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