Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper left for South Africa to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela. He will be joined by more than 60 other national leaders from all over the world.
Mr Harper, along with former Canadian Prime Ministers Kim Campbell, Jean Chretien and Brian Mulroney, left Sunday afternoon. Joe Clark, another ex PM of Canada, is going to join the Canadian delegation from the Ivory Coast where he has been on a mission promoting democracy, the Toronto Sun reports. Liberal MP Irwin Cotler and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair will attend select Mandela memorial services.
Mandela, the anti-apartheid hero of South Africa, was 95 when he died on Thursday. He is going to be buried during an official state funeral on Dec 15 completing the 10-day commemoration of his death.
The U.S. delegates attending the ceremony will include President Barack Obama along with every living U.S. president with the sole exception of George H W Bush, according to NPR. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton will join Mr Obama as well as 26 Congress members to the funeral. Prince Charles will attend the ceremony on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II who won't be able to attend it on health grounds.
The Canadian delegation is going to attend a couple of events. One of them Mandela's official public memorial in Johannesburg's FNB stadium aka Soccer City stadium on Dec 10. The other one is his lying-of-state to be held in Pretoria on Dec 11. On the other hand, the final state funeral will be held in the Eastern Cape at Mandela's traditional Qunu homestead.
Presidential Minister Collins Chabane said that all the international leaders attending the funeral ceremony of Mandela at such a short notice proved how special a place Mandela held in the "hearts of people" worldwide. According to Politico, this sudden trip by the U.S. officials can be compared to the trip President Clinton had to Israel when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got killed in 1995.
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