Frederik Willem de Klerk
From apartheid to majority rule
In 1990 South Africa's President Frederik Willem de Klerk decided to release Nelson Mandela, leader of the liberation movement, who had been in prison since 1963. Following the release, the two politicians worked together to bring an end to the policy of racial segregation. It was for his participation in this peace process that de Klerk was awarded the Peace Prize in 1993.
When de Klerk took office as President in 1989, no one expected him to play a key part in the termination of apartheid. Both as a lawyer, as a parliamentarian, and as a member of the government he had stood out as a firm upholder of white privilege. But when he realized that the apartheid system was leading to both economic and political bankruptcy, he put himself at the head of a radical change of course. He continued the negotiations with Mandela and the ANC liberation movement, which had begun in secret. They agreed to prepare for a presidential election and to draw up a new constitution with equal voting rights for every population group in the country.