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S Africa's de Klerk released from hospital

Written by: Staff
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CAPE TOWN, July 3 (Reuters) F W de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid-era president, was released from hospital today after suffering respiratory problems following an operation to remove a cancerous tumour last month.

De Klerk, 70, left Cape Town's Panorama Medi-Clinic walking with a cane and said he was grateful for the good wishes he had received since being admitted to hospital on June 3.

''I've been surrounded by love,'' he told reporters.

De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993 for his efforts to end apartheid and establish a multi-racial democracy.

He had an operation to remove the tumour from his colon but was kept on a ventilator for several weeks after he suffered a post-operative lung infection.

The F W de Klerk Foundation said the former president would spend time recuperating and had cancelled all his engagements until August 15, after which he planned to resume his activities ''at an appropriate level and tempo''.

It said doctors had not found any additional cancers in his body but that de Klerk would consult with them on the advisability of taking a preventative course of chemotherapy.

De Klerk, a former heavy smoker, lifted a 30-year ban on Mandela's African National Congress and freed Mandela from prison, paving the way for democratic elections in 1994. He served as Mandela's deputy president and retired from active politics in 1997.

REUTERS SHR HS1539

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