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Large number of presidents, royalty and celebrities expected for Mandela memorial service

United Nations Secretary -General Ban Ki-moon, waves at the crowd after visiting the family of the of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. Scores of heads of state and government and other foreign dignitaries, including royalty, are beginning to converge on South Africa as the final preparations for Tuesday's national memorial service for liberation struggle icon Nelson Mandela are put in place.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe
December 09, 2013 - 8:38 AM

JOHANNESBURG - The memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela on Tuesday is poised to be one of the largest such gatherings in generations with tens of thousands of local mourners and almost 100 foreign leaders expected.

South African officials say the normal seating capacity of Johannesburg's FNB stadium of 95,000 probably won't suffice to accommodate all mourners, and the event is broadcast live to other stadiums and venues across the country.

Many royals from Europe and elsewhere, celebrities and officials were on their way to Johannesburg Monday. The South African government said almost 100 heads of state, government and ministers have confirmed their attendance.

Here's a selection of confirmed attendees:

— U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as well as former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

— U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his predecessor Kofi Annan.

— British Prime Minister David Cameron and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

— French President Francois Hollande and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

— Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

— Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and three of his predecessors.

— Cuban President Raul Castro.

— Mexican President Pena Nieto.

— Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and three of her predecessors, including Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

— Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.

— Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito and former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

— Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

— Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

— Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao.

— Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

— Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

— Bangladesh's President Abdul Hamid.

— Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain.

— South Korean Prime Minister Hongwon Chung.

— Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

— Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

— Congo's President Joseph Kabila.

— Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

— Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

— Saudi-Arabia's Deputy Prime Minister Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

— Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

— European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

— European Union Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

— Top Vatican official Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.

— German President Joachim Gauck.

— Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Prince Felipe.

— The Netherlands' Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and King Willem-Alexander.

— Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

— Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Crown Prince Haakon.

— Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Princess Victoria.

— Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo and King Philippe.

— Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout.

— Haiti's Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.

— British Model Naomi Campbell.

— Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and former Irish head of state Mary Robinson as part of the delegation of The Elders, a group of former statesmen which Mandela helped to launch.

— British entrepreneur Richard Branson and singer Peter Gabriel, who brought the idea of The Elders to Mandela.


A full list of attendees to the memorial service and Mandela's burial on Sunday compiled by the South African government can be found here:



JOHANNESURG, South Africa – A Canadian delegation landed in Johannesburg, South Africa today to pay final respects to Nelson Mandela.

The contingent headed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a host of notable politicians left the airport in a 14-vehicle motorcade with the prime minister in a silver Toyota SUV.

The group includes former prime ministers Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Kim Campbell.

Opposition leader Tom Mulcair is with them, as is one of Mandela’s former lawyers, Quebec MP Irwin Cotler, representing the Liberals.

The delegation includes the premiers of the Yukon, Nova Scotia and Alberta and Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford worked with Mandela to develop South Africa’s legal system.

Former prime minister Joe Clark, Mulroney’s foreign minister when his government pushed South Africa to free Mandela, is already in South Africa.

The delegation will join world leaders at a memorial for Mandela in Johannesburg on Tuesday and will be on hand in Pretoria on Wednesday when the former president’s body lies in state.

A state funeral will be held Sunday for Mandela, who died last Thursday at the age of 95.

The flight brought Harper and predecessors Chretien, Mulroney and Campbell together in close quarters in an aircraft Chretien once dubbed dubbed the “Taj Mahal,” a reference to the front stateroom installed when Mulroney bought a fleet of the jetliners during his time in office.

But the animosity of the past seems to have dissipated, at least on the surface.

“I’m not a grumpy politician anymore,” Mulroney said with a smile as he spoke of the significance of being in such close proximity with his former rivals.

“I’m a statesman now.”

As Chretien took one of his trademark strolls to the back of the plane, the former Liberal prime minister openly lamented that he never used this particular aircraft during his three terms in office, mainly because of the way he painted Mulroney as a free-spending politician with a taste for Gucci.

Chretien also expressed his disappointment that Canada doesn’t put its former prime ministers to work for the country’s betterment and to promote international relations after they leave office.

“It’s not our tradition,” he said. “And it’s too bad.”

It was a less-than-subtle point that highlighted the tug-of-war style of Canadian politics as the two former PMs reflected on Mandela’s unique consensus-building abilities.

When Mandela was released from custody after 27 years in prison, many a pundit noted he could have launched his country into civil war.

Instead, he chose the path of peace, and eventually saw South Africa’s apartheid regime crumble.

As the Canadian delegation flew across the Atlantic, just prior to refuelling in Cape Verde, Harper spoke briefly of Canada’s role in ensuring Mandela’s release from prison.

“It really tells you about the long and leading history of Canada from the days of Mr. (John) Diefenbaker on, and the struggle that defined Nelson Mandela’s life — the struggle against apartheid and the transition of South Africa to a modern, non-racial state,” Harper said, flanked by Chretien to his right and with Mulroney and Campbell facing him at the stateroom’s wood- grain table.

“It’s something we should all be very proud of and I’m greatly honoured to be joined by Mr. Mulroney, Mrs. Campbell and Mr. Chretien as well as Mr. Clark who will join us when we reach South Africa.”

But 30 years ago, it was a huge gamble on Canada’s part to support the fight against the country’s racist policies and to demand the release of Mandela, said Mulroney.

The United States and the U.K. were “offside,” he noted, and Mandela’s African National Congress needed a G7 country in its corner.

“We knew we were doing the right thing, but on the other hand we also knew that it was a tough battle,” he said, adding that other nations — including Canada — could learn from how Mandela brought people together.

“When you just get one look at what president Mandela did in South Africa, you know it was all worthwhile.”

“It’s an over-wrought expression, but Nelson Mandela was an iconic figure who was truly a great man.”

Chretien, who will celebrate his 80th birthday next month, said there is no true comparison to Mandela among world leaders, because every one of them is different.

“We are all people coming from a long way from (South Africa),” he said, adding with a smile: “You know I’m from rural Quebec.”

Chretien pointed out that Russia’s Vladimir Putin was an orphan who never met his parents and that Britain’s John Major “was the son of a circus acrobat.”

Mandela was a tribal leader’s son who became a lawyer and a prisoner.

Former governor general Michaelle Jean said the respect for the man that Canada’s leaders share is what is important, as South Africa shows the world both its pride in Mandela and its pain at losing him.

“To see representatives of all political families together going to South Africa to pay tribute to Mandela is totally in the spirit of the man,” Jean said as she prepared to board the plane.

“So I’m proud of us.”

— The Canadian Press



OTTAWA - The Prime Minister's Office says three former PMs have confirmed they will accompany Stephen Harper to South Africa to pay final respects to Nelson Mandela.

The PMO says Harper will leave for Johannesburg on Sunday with a delegation that will include Jean Chretien, Kim Campbell and Brian Mulroney.

Harper will attend a public memorial for Mandela on Tuesday in Johannesburg, as well as his lying in state in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Mandela's body will lie in state from Wednesday through Friday.

A state funeral for the former South African prime minister is planned for next Sunday.

Canadians can pay tribute to Mandela by signing an online book of condolences (at

— The Canadian Press

News from © The Associated Press, 2013
The Associated Press

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