‘De Klerk Was A Remarkable Moral Force For Change,’ Buhari Mourns Ex-South African President

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FILE - South African President Nelson Mandela, left, and Deputy President F.W. de Klerk chat outside Parliament after the approval of South Africa's new constitution May 8, 1996. F.W. de Klerk, who oversaw end of South Africa's country’s white minority rule, has died at 85 it was announced Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (AP Photo, file)

President Muhammadu Buhari has mourned South Africa’s ex-president, Frederik de Klerk, describing him as a remarkable moral force for change that will be celebrated for years beyond his death.

Buhari in a statement issued on Thursday by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the death of South Africa’s last white president “is the end of an era because of his tremendous impact on history and the cause of justice.”

“Ending the obnoxious apartheid system by a white President was an incredible act of moral courage and fierce commitment to human rights regardless of the colour of the victims of racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa,” Buhari was quoted as saying.

According to Buhari, the late South African leader had put humanity and justice before personal political ambition by dismantling the abhorrent apartheid system.

“History will be greatly kind to the late de Klerk because it takes a lot of moral audacity to do what he did at the time he did it. De Klerk who won a joint Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993 alongside Nelson Mandela, will not be forgotten for years to come because of his immense and immeasurable contributions to world peace, human rights and justice,” President Buhari added.

De Klerk died on Thursday aged 85, having helped steer South Africa to democracy while never fully owning up to the horrors of the apartheid past.

He died at home after a battle with cancer, his foundation said in a statement.

De Klerk freed Nelson Mandela from prison, unbanned political parties, and later shared a Nobel Peace Prize with the anti-apartheid icon.

Yet he never found a place in democratic South Africa and became seen as an apologist for the torture and killings committed by the segregationist regime.

His testimony had been demanded in several current cases seeking answers over past atrocities.

But in a surprise move, he tendered an apology — in a posthumous video message.