F. W. de Klerk


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de Klerk, F. W.

(Frederik Willem de Klerk) (frĕd`ərĭk vĭl`əm də klûrk`), 1936–, South African statesman, president of South Africa (1989–94). Holding ministerial posts from 1978, he became (1989) acting president when P. W. BothaBotha, Pieter Willem
, 1916–2006, South African political leader. An Afrikaner and a member of the right-wing National party, he first entered parliament in 1948. Botha gained prominence as minister of defense (1966–80) and became prime minister in 1978.
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 resigned. Recognizing that black resistance to the white power monopoly would only increase, de Klerk, despite his conservative reputation, began the process of ending apartheidapartheid
[Afrik.,=apartness], system of racial segregation peculiar to the Republic of South Africa, the legal basis of which was largely repealed in 1991–92. History
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, lifting the ban on antiapartheid parties and releasing Nelson MandelaMandela, Nelson Rolihlahla
, 1918–2013, South African statesman. He earned a degree (B.A., 1943) after being expelled from the University College of Fort Hare (for taking part in a student protest) and finishing his studies with the Univ.
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 from prison in 1990. In 1991 he obtained the repeal of all remaining apartheid laws and called for the drafting of a new constitution, leading to the approval of a multiracial transitional government in 1993. De Klerk and Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993. Mandela succeeded de Klerk as president in 1994, and de Klerk became one of two vice presidents in a government of national unity. Two years later the National Party withdrew from the government to form an official opposition, and in 1997 De Klerk retired from politics.

Bibliography

See his autobiographical The Last Trek (1999).

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The longest poem in the collection amusingly imagines F.
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