UK & World News

  • 9 December 2013, 11:15

Mandela: South Africa Awaits World Leaders

South Africa is preparing for the arrival of scores of world leaders as the official mourning continues for Nelson Mandela.

Some 60 heads of state have confirmed their attendance at this week's memorial events, including US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

They will be joined by former US presidents George W Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and their wives.

Prime Minister David Cameron will attend the main memorial service on Tuesday, while Prince Charles will represent Britain at Sunday's state funeral.

The leaders of France, Australia, Germany, Canada, Spain, Brazil and a host of other nations will also fly into the country.

Celebrities, including Bono, Oprah Winfrey and Sir Richard Branson are also expected to head to South Africa to pay their personal tributes to the man they considered a friend.

Later today, a special joint session of parliament will be held in Cape Town to allow South African politicians from all political parties to mark the passing of the nation's first black president.

President Jacob Zuma has urged the country to remember the values of peace and forgiveness that Mr Mandela lived by and uphold them.

His sentiments were echoed by the anti-apartheid icon's family, who released a statement calling for South Africans to "keep the dream alive".

On Tuesday, the focus will shift back to Johannesburg where a huge memorial service is due to take place at the FNB Stadium, the scene of Nelson Mandela's last public appearance ahead of the 2010 World Cup Final.

Some 80,000 people are expected to attend the event, including President Obama, his wife Michelle and other visiting dignitaries.

From Wednesday, Mr Mandela's body will "lie in state" in Pretoria at the Union Buildings where he governed as president between 1994 and 1999.

A funeral cortege carrying the icon's remains will pass through the capital daily until Friday, with South Africans being urged to line the streets to form a "guard of honour".

The state funeral will take place in Mr Mandela's ancestral homeland of Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

It is still not clear whether President Obama will still be in the country, but many other world leaders are expected to travel to the usually sleepy rural village to join Mr Mandela's family, friends and former comrades in bidding farewell to the revered statesman as he makes his final journey home.

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