World mourns death of Nelson Mandela

JOHANESBURG: World leaders are mourning the anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela”s death, whose soul departed peacefully last night at his home following complications from the recurring lung infection.

South African President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela”s death, saying that the nation has lost its greatest son and several have lost a father, Fox News reports.

Zuma said that Mandela will be accorded a full state funeral, the report added.

President Barack Obama called him one of the “most influential, courageous and profoundly good” people to ever have lived.

“He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages,” said Barack Obama, who shares with Mandela the distinction of being his nation’s first black president.

Obama also ordered the U.S. flags to be lowered immediately to half staff until Monday evening in a tribute to Mandela.

Flags flew at half-mast in numerous countries, including the United States, India, France and Britain and at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II sent her personal condolences to Mandela’s family, saying she “remembers with great warmth” her meetings with a man who “worked tirelessly for the good of his country.”

The British prime minister, David Cameron, who in 2006 apologised for what he said were the “mistakes” of his Conservative Party in its response to apartheid in Britain’s former colony, said: “A great light has gone out in the world.”

Xi Jinping, the president of China, which supported apartheid’s opponents throughout the Cold War, praised Mandela’s victory in the anti-apartheid struggle and his contribution to “the cause of human progress”.

For Chinese rights activists, Mandela’s death served as a reminder that one of their own symbols of freedom, Nobel Peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, remained jailed by Chinese authorities.

“This moment magnifies how evil the current regime is,” Beijing activist Hu Jia said.

India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, compared Mandela to his country’s own icon for the struggle for freedom, the independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

“A giant among men has passed away. This is as much India’s loss as South Africa’s. He was a true Gandhian. His life and work will remain a source of eternal inspiration for generations to come.”

India announced a period of mourning for five days. Flags will fly at half-staff and “there will be no official entertainment”, the government said.

In his message to South African counterpart President Rouhani of Iran expressed deep sorrow over Mandela’s demise, describing him as a unique and international figure. 

”Nelson Mandela had a firm belief in the freedom and equality of all humans, not only in his country South Africa, but across the world. He never faltered in this strongly held belief,” said President Rouhani in his message. 

“On this rough and rugged road replete with hardships, Mandela magnificently bestowed meaning on the ‘long path to freedom’ by suffering displacement, distance from home and family and long-term imprisonment,” Rouhani added.

Mandela had spent nearly three months in a Pretoria hospital with a recurring lung infection, and was shifted to his home in September with all intensive care facilities made available to him.

Mandela had spent 27 years as a prisoner in South Africa for opposing apartheid, and then emerged to become his country”s first black president.

He was bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize and he became an enduring symbol of integrity, principle and resilience.

Mandela had retired from public life in 2004 after being in increasingly frail health from past several years.

He is survived by his third wife, Graca Machel, three daughters and multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the report added. Agencies

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