Prison release and presidency
Upon his release from prison, Nelson Mandela immediately urged foreign powers not to reduce their pressure on the South African government for constitutional reform. While he stated that he was committed to working toward peace, he declared that the ANCs armed struggle would continue until the black majority received the right to vote.In 1991, Mandela was elected president of the African National Congress, with lifelong friend and colleague Oliver Tambo serving as national chairperson. Mandela continued to negotiate with President F.W. de Klerk toward the countrys first multiracial elections. White South Africans were willing to share power, but many black South Africans wanted a complete transfer of power. The negotiations were often strained and news of violent eruptions, including the assassination of ANC leader Chris Hani, continued throughout the country. Mandela had to keep a delicate balance of political pressure and intense negotiations amid the demonstrations and armed resistance.
In 1993, Mandela and President de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward dismantling apartheid. And due in no small part to their work, negotiations between black and white South Africans prevailed On April 27, 1994, South Africa held its first democratic elections. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the countrys first black president on May 10, 1994, at the age of 77, with de Klerk as his first deputy.Also in 1994, Mandela published an autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, much of which he had secretly written while in prison. The following year, he was awarded the Order of Merit.From 1994 until June 1999, Mandela worked to bring about the transition from minority rule and apartheid to black majority rule. He used the nations enthusiasm for sports as a pivot point to promote reconciliation between whites and blacks, encouraging black South Africans to support the oncehated national rugby team. In 1995, South Africa came to the world stage by hosting the Rugby World Cup, which brought further recognition and prestige to the young republic.
Mandela also worked to protect South Africas economy from collapse during his presidency. Through his Reconstruction and Development Plan, the South African government funded the creation of jobs, housing and basic health care. In 1996, Mandela signed into law a new constitution for the nation, establishing a strong central government based on majority rule, and guaranteeing both the rights of minorities and the freedom of expression.