Former South Africa President FW de Klerk, who was the head of state between September 1989 and May 1994 is dead at the age of 85.
De Klerk a prominent Afrikaner, was the ninth and possibly last in a long line of white presidents of South Africa.
He was also a key figure in the nation's transition to democracy and had been diagnosed with cancer this year.
The former president’s death was confirmed by the F.W. de Klerk Foundation, which said in a statement that he passed away at his home in Fresnaye, a suburb of Cape Town, after being diagnosed with cancer.
“It is with the deepest sadness that the FW de Klerk Foundation must announce that former President FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer,” the foundation said in a statement.
De Klerk dramatically dismantled the apartheid system in South Africa that he and his ancestors had helped put in place.
In 1990, he announced he was releasing anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, leading to multi-party polls in 1994.
Due to his actions, both De Klerk and Mandela were honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for their peacemaking efforts in South Africa.
A member of a prominent Afrikaner family, De Klerk had vehemently defended the separation of the races during his long climb up the political ladder.
But once he took over as president in 1989, he stunned his deeply divided nation, and the wider world, by reconsidering South Africa’s racist ways.