Guests start arriving for Mandela's memorial service

Johannesburg, Dec 9 — A large number of high profile guests have started arriving here to attend events commemorating former South African president Nelson Mandela, the government said Monday.

About 70 heads of state and government have confirmed that they will take part in the memorial service of Mandela, according to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRC), reports Xinhua.

These include US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The Indian delegation will be led by President Pranab Mukherjee.

International and regional organisations from the UN and European Commission, African Union have also confirmed their attendance.

The UN will be represented by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the African Union will be represented by Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The large number of high profile guests arriving was unprecedented, said Clayson Monyela, DIRC spokesman. “I don’t think it has ever happened before,” he said.

“The world literally is coming to South Africa. On the numbers for the memorial service, we are sitting at over 70 heads of state and government in office, and we are looking for 10 former heads of state and government,” Monyela added.

The government has set Dec 10 for official memorial service at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. Mandela’s body will then lie in the Union Buildings in Pretoria for three days starting from Dec 11.

Mandela’s remains will be transported Dec 14 to the Eastern Cape from air force base Waterkloof in Pretoria, where the ruling African National Congress will bid Mandela farewell.

A funeral service and interment ceremony will take place at Mandela’s home and final resting place at Qunu in the Eastern Cape Dec 15.

Mandela died of lung disease Thursday at his Johannesburg home, at the age of 95.


Source: IANS

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