UN chief mourns death of former SA leader FW De Klerk

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday mourned the death of former South African President F.W. de Klerk, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

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Guterres is deeply saddened to learn of the death of de Klerk and conveys his deepest condolences to the family of de Klerk and to the government and people of South Africa, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary-general.

“Former State President F.W. de Klerk will be remembered as a courageous statesman who took a principled stance, lifting the ban on political organizations and releasing political prisoners, thus helping chart the path for a transition to a democratic South Africa,” said the statement.

As deputy president from 1994 to 1996, de Klerk participated in the Government of National Unity, which oversaw the drafting of a historic new Constitution for South Africa, it said.

De Klerk, who died on Thursday at the age of 85, was recognized for his role in dismantling the apartheid regime in South Africa and bringing universal suffrage.

He was South Africa’s state president from 1989 to 1994. After the election of Nelson Mandela as the country’s first black president in 1994, de Klerk became Mandela’s deputy till 1996.

De Klerk and Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their achievements in ending apartheid.