In 1948, the National Party (NP) took power in South Africa. The white minority government implemented a policy known as apartheid, which called for separation of races. This policy was institutionalised with the enactment of apartheid laws.
In October 1989, FW de Klerk became President of South Africa and called for the end of apartheid. As part of his policy shift, many ANC activists, including Nelson Mandela, were freed and the ban on the ANC was lifted the following year. The release of Mandela, charismatic symbol of the struggle against apartheid, opened a new chapter in the history of South Africa, although it did not end apartheid itself
The first multi-racial democratic elections took place in April 1994. The African National Congress (ANC) won over 60 percent of the vote. Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa and the Government of National Unity was established.
The South African negotiation process that occurred between 1990 and 1994 and that led to the National Peace Accord (NPA – 1991) and the democratic elections (1994) represents a unique case, as no formal international mediation was involved, apart from a UN observer mission, in support of the accord. South Africans organized and carried out the negotiations themselves. The need to respond to the increasing political violence in the country drove religious organisations as well political parties together in search of a solution.
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