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Former South Africa President De Klerk Dies at 85

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The last president of apartheid South Africa and a key actor in the country’s transition to democracy, FW de Klerk, has died.

The FW de Klerk Foundation’s spokesperson Dave Steward confirmed his death to News24 on Thursday.

“The former president died earlier this morning at his home in Fresnaye after his struggle against cancer.

He was 85-years-old. He is survived by his wife Elita, two children Susan and Jan, and his grandchildren.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce details of De Klerk’s state funeral in due course.

In a statement on 8 June 2021, the foundation said he was diagnosed with mesothelioma – “a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs” – in March 2021.

He was receiving immunotherapy for the illness.

De Klerk was the head of state from September 1989 until May 1994 and became one of the country’s two deputy presidents after the first multi-racial, democratic election in April 1994.

The son of a National Party senator and minister, De Klerk entered Parliament in 1972 after training as a lawyer and winning his seat in Vereeniging, in what was then known as Southern Transvaal.

He was appointed to the Cabinet of prime minister John Vorster in 1978 and served in various portfolios, including Minister of National Education. De Klerk was also a member of the Broederbond, the secretive Afrikaner organisation then active in politics and society.

He succeeded PW Botha as the leader of the National Party in February 1989 after Botha suffered a stroke and resigned from the party leadership.

He became president seven months later after Botha quit the post in anger and the National Party won a whites-only election with a reduced margin.

On 2 February 1990, exactly one year after taking the reins as National Party leader, De Klerk announced to Parliament that he was unbanning the ANC, SACP, PAC and other liberation movements, and that he was releasing Nelson Mandela unconditionally.

This led to a multi-party negotiation process between 1990 and 1994, paving the way for the democratic election.

The 1993 Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to De Klerk and Mandela, who became the country’s first democratically elected president the following year.

De Klerk became the first leader of the opposition after the election and led his party from the Government of National Unity in June 1996. He retired from active politics in August 1997.

He testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on behalf of the National Party in August 1996 and May 1997, where his apology for apartheid was criticised as insufficient.

After his political career, he launched a foundation in his name, which sought to play a role in civil society as a watchdog and think-tank. He also became involved in a global leadership initiative called The Elders, consisting of former heads of state who advocated for the rule of law and human rights.

Recently, De Klerk became mired in controversy. In 2012, he defended aspects of apartheid during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and in 2020 he refused to concede that the system was a crime against humanity.

He is survived by his wife Elita (68), whom he married in November 1998, son Jan (57) and daughter Susan (52). His son Willem died of cancer in October 2020 at the age of 53. His former wife, Marike, whom he divorced in 1998, was murdered at the age of 64 in 2001.

 

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UN Secretary-General visits Buhari At State House

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The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday paid visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.

He was received by top government officials.

Buhari’s conversation with Guterres centred on the need to ensure peaceful and democratic elections as well as the robust participation of women and young people in all areas.

President Buhari also thanked the UN boss for the visit, stressing that it came at a time when the world is focussing on the Russia/Ukraine crisis. Buhari also believes that the visit underscores the assurance that the world is with Nigeria.

On his part, the UN scribe called for developed nations to ramp up vaccine support to countries in the global north, halt the asymmetrical distribution and reform the global financial system.

Earlier in the day, he visited the UN House in Abuja alongside some top officials and diplomats of the agency.

Guterres is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria – the first of such.

The UN chief had arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and also visited Borno State where he proposed the reintegration of repentant terrorists. This, he said, is key to the restoration of peace in the North East region.

“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those, that in a moment of despair, became terrorists but want to become now citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters,” he told a gathering at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.

The UN scribe is also expected to perform the wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the August 26, 2011, suicide bomb attack victims.

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Ukraine : UN Agencies Condemn Attacks On Health Care Facilities

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UN agencies on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire and an end to attacks on healthcare professionals and facilities in Ukraine, describing such incidents as acts of “unconscionable cruelty”.

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 31 attacks on health care have been documented via the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA), the heads of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.

“To attack the most vulnerable -– babies, children, pregnant women and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives –- is an act of unconscionable cruelty,” they said, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
In 24 of the reported attacks, health care facilities were damaged or destroyed, while in five cases ambulances were hit. A total of 12 people were killed and 34 injured, according to the UN agencies’ statement.

“Humanitarian partners and health care workers must be able to safely maintain and strengthen essential health service delivery, including immunisation against Covid-19 and polio, and the supply of life-saving medicines for civilians across Ukraine as well as to refugees crossing into neighbouring countries,” said the statement, signed by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, UNFPA counterpart Natalia Kanem and WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

At least three people were killed, including a young girl, in an attack Wednesday on a children’s hospital in Mariupol in southern Ukraine.

According to the United Nations’ reproductive health agency two other Ukrainian maternity hospitals had already been attacked and destroyed before that strike.

“Attacks on health care and health workers directly impact people’s ability to access essential health services -– especially women, children and other vulnerable groups,” the UN agency chiefs said in their statement on Sunday.

“We have already seen that the health care needs of pregnant women, new mothers, younger children and older people inside Ukraine are rising, while access to services is being severely limited by the violence,” the statement added.

Oxygen and medical supplies, including for the management of pregnancy complications, are running dangerously low, they warned.

“The health care system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening,” the UN agencies warned.

“We call for an immediate ceasefire, which includes unhindered access so that people in need can access humanitarian assistance. A peaceful resolution to end the war in Ukraine is possible.”

AFP

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Yoon Suk-yeol wins South Korea’s presidential election

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Yoon Suk Yeol, a conservative former top prosecutor, has been elected South Korea’s new president, defeating his chief liberal rival in one of the country’s most closely fought presidential elections.

With more than 98 percent of the ballots counted, Yoon had 48.6 percent of the votes against his rival Lee Jae-myung’s 47.8 percent.

Yoon said on Thursday that he would honour the constitution and the parliament and work with opposition parties when he takes office as the country’s next leader, calling the election result a “victory of the great people”.

“Our competition is over for now,” he said in an acceptance speech, thanking and consoling Lee and other rivals.

“We have to join hands and unite into one for the people and the country.”

At a separate ceremony with supporters, Yoon said he would put top priority on “national unity,” adding all people should be treated equally regardless of their regional, political and socioeconomic differences.

“I would pay attention to people’s livelihoods, provide warm welfare services to the needy, and make utmost efforts so that our country serves as a proud, responsible member of the international community and the free world,” he said.

Yoon is to take office in May and serve a single five-year term as leader of the world’s 10th-largest economy.

 

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