MARGARET THATCHER'S DEATH

Thatcher wasn't a racist, says apartheid leader De Klerk

Late British prime minister did not give the 'slightest support for apartheid or for racial discrimination of any kind'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 April, 2013, 3:06am
 

The last leader of apartheid South Africa, F. W. de Klerk, has rejected accusations that Margaret Thatcher was a racist.

The former leader, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993, said on the eve of her funeral that the late British prime minister did not give the "slightest support for apartheid or for racial discrimination of any kind".

In life, and after her death last week, Thatcher was accused of racism because of her opposition to sanctions against the apartheid regime and for calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist. De Klerk said she simply understood the politics at play better than most contemporaries.

"Thatcher understood that sanctions have limited effect on states that believe that their very existence is at stake," said De Klerk, who was those attending the "Iron Lady's" funeral at St Paul's Cathedral.

De Klerk said he consulted Thatcher during the dying year of apartheid, to inform her of his "intention of embarking on fundamental constitutional transformation".

De Klerk's support is unlikely to sway opinion about the polarising British premier.

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