South Africa’s last white president, Frederik Willem de Klerk, died on Thursday morning at his home in Cape Town, the FW de Klerk Foundation said in a statement.
“Former president FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer,” the statement said.
He was 85 years old.
De Klerk headed South Africa’s white minority government until 1994, when Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress party swept to power.
He shared the Nobel peace prize with Mandela but his role in the transition to democracy remains highly contested more than 20 years after the end of apartheid.
He was diagnosed in March with mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the tissue lining the lungs.
“He is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren,” the foundation said, adding that the family would in due course make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements.