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Man who gave Mandela his Nobel prize dies

The Local Norway
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Man who gave Mandela his Nobel prize dies
Francis Sejersted awards the prize to then Israeli President Shimon Peres in 1994

Francis Sejersted, who awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and then South African president Frederik de Klerk has died aged 79, following a long illness.

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Sejersted, a historian, headed the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee from 1991 to 1999 when it bestowed the prestigious honour on some of the world's most iconic pacifists, including Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 and Mandela and de Klerk in 1993. 

He died overnight between Monday and Tuesday, his family told Norwegian news agency NTB.

One of the more controversial decisions made by the committee during his tenure was to give the 1994 prize to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, jointly with Israel's then president Yitzhak Rabin and foreign minister Shimon Peres.

Infuriated by the panel's decision to honour the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, one of the five members quit the committee, in a rare move.

Before heading the committee, Sejersted had been a committee member since 1982.

Highly respected in Norway, he was the author of several economic history books and had served as the head of the Fritt Ord foundation for freedom of expression.

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