UK's Boris Johnson says De Klerk 'changed the course of history'

"I am saddened by the death of FW de Klerk, a leader who changed the course of history by freeing Nelson Mandela and working alongside him to end apartheid and bring democracy to South Africa," Boris Johnson said in a statement.

FW de Klerk delivers. Picture: JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP

LONDON - Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday paid tribute to South Africa's last apartheid president FW de Klerk, praising him for his pivotal role in transforming the country.

"I am saddened by the death of FW de Klerk, a leader who changed the course of history by freeing Nelson Mandela and working alongside him to end apartheid and bring democracy to South Africa," he said in a statement.

"De Klerk will be remembered for his steely courage and realism in doing what was manifestly right and leaving South Africa a better country," he added.

The French Embassy also sent its condolence in a statement: “As the last leader of apartheid South Africa, De Klerk helped place the country on the road to democracy. In 1990, he announced sweeping reforms that marked the beginning of the transition to a constitutional democracy, a key development for the people of South Africa. This included the unbanning of the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid organisations.”

It said also noted his act of releasing Mandela: “He also took the decision to release political prisoners, including his successor Nelson Mandela.”

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