An attorney who held a number of South African ministerial posts, F.W. de Klerk became both the leader of South Africa’s National Party and the country’s president in 1989.
Upon becoming President, de Klerk, a conservative, shocked many when he lifted the ban on the African National Congress and other political parties. He went on to release Nelson Mandela from prison, and essentially brought apartheid to an end, making possible a new constitution guaranteeing the principle of one person, one vote.
He now heads the F.W. de Klerk Foundation, which works for peace in societies divided along cultural, ethnic, religious or linguistic lines.