Twenty years after announcing Nelson Mandela's release from prison, former South African president FW de Klerk commemorates the speech that began dismantling the apartheid regime.
De Klerk will give the closing address at a conference commemorating his February 2, 1990, speech to South Africa's parliament, which called for a new democratic constitution, lifted the ban on dissident political parties and announced the release of all political prisoners, including Mandela.
Conference organisers said De Klerk's speech "opened the way to South Africa's constitutional transformation" and "announced the steps - including the release of Mr Nelson Mandela - which helped to open the way to the democratic transformation of South Africa.""It really was a turning point of South African history," said Dave Steward, executive director of the FW de Klerk Foundation, which organised the conference and which the former president chairs.
De Klerk, South Africa's president from 1989 to 1994, had been in office just five months when he delivered the historic speech. A one-time hard-liner in the pro-apartheid National Party, he would go down in South African history as the last apartheid president.
Mandela, for his part, was released nine days later - on February 11, 1990 - ending his 27-year imprisonment. He would go on to become the country's first democratically elected leader.
The two shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their work in ending the apartheid regime and building a new democratic South Africa.