Nelson Mandela memorial: The world unites to say goodbye
Heads of state from across the world have arrived in South Africa to attend the memorial service for anti-apartheid legend Nelson Mandela.
Zee Media Bureau
Johannesburg: Heads of state from across the world have arrived in South Africa to attend the memorial service for anti-apartheid legend Nelson Mandela.
President Pranab Mukherjee is leading a delegation representing a cross-section of the political spectrum. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and BSP leader Satish Mishra are part of the delegation.
Importantly, Pranab Mukherjee is one of only six heads of state who will address the crowd at the memorial service. He will join US President Barack Obama, Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and Raul Castro of Cuba as well as Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao on the podium to address the crowd.
South African government has made massive preparations for the memorial service at the 95,000-seat FNB Stadium, where Mandela made his last major public appearance during the 2010 football World Cup.
Among the other world leaders who will be attending the memorial service are US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will also attend the event.
Britain’s Prince Charles will represent Queen Elizabeth II at the memorial service.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon would also be present.
Proceedings will be broadcast live to the other stadiums and to 90 more public venues across the country, as well as on television internationally.
The South African Parliament paid tribute to Mandela with both the Assembly benches and the public gallery packed to capacity when Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe took to the podium to open the tributary speeches.
Mandela’s grandson Ndaba Mandela represented his family at the sitting.
Authorities have mobilised around 11,000 security personnel to ensure security during the service.
Some leaders are expected to travel to Mandela’s rural childhood village of Qunu for his funeral service and burial on December 15.
With PTI inputs