Frederic Willem de Klerk (1936 – )

Frederik Willem de Klerk is a South African politician, President of South Africa from 1989 to 1994. Less known than Nelson Mandela, he played an extremely important role in the end of the apartheid. Originally a lawyer, he was elected to the South African Parliament for the National Party. In 1989, he became the leader of the party and was elected President. In office, De Klerk went full speed on a reform process to prepare a postapartheid constitution in collaboration with the country’s four racial groups. Facing a strong opposition by the Conservative Party, De Klerk released Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, and removed the ban on the African National Congress. Collaborating with black leaders, his government passed many laws against racial discrimination, undertaking the destruction of the legislative basis of the apartheid. In April 1994 he took part in the first all-race election of South Africa and, after it, joined Mandela’s government. The year before he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Nelson Mandela.

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