Former South Africa President Dies at 90

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P.W. Botha, the apartheid-era president who led South Africa through its worst racial violence and deepest international isolation, died Tuesday. He was 90.

Botha died at his home on the southern Cape coast at 8 p.m., according to the South African Press Association. "Botha died at home, peacefully," Capt. Frikkie Lucas was quoted as saying.

The African National Congress issued a statement expressing condolences and wishing his family "strength and comfort at this difficult time."

Nicknamed the "Old Crocodile" for his feared temper and sometimes ruthless manner, Botha served as head of the white racist government from 1978 to 1989.

Throughout his leadership he resisted mounting pressure to free South Africa's most famous political prisoner, Nelson Mandela. Mandela was released by Botha's successor, F.W. de Klerk in 1990.

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