Today 07 December
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral for Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon.
South Africa's defence force on Saturday ordered soldiers on leave to report back for duty to provide support for Nelson Mandela's mourning and funeral activities. The "urgent message" was issued by the South African National Defence Force recalling all soldiers in units that have been assigned support duties. "Members must report back to their units, bases or stations by at the latest 12 o' clock midnight on 7 December 2013," the defence force said in a statement. The government has declared a state funeral and week of mourning with multiple events expected to draw masses of people to the streets and leaders from around the world.
Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - Life began returning to the Central African Republic capital Bangui on Saturday, two days after deadly clashes, but witnesses said an order for troops to return to barracks had gone largely unheeded. Bangui's terrified inhabitants had been confined to their homes since an explosion of sectarian violence early Thursday that the Red Cross said claimed at least 300 lives. As curfew ended at 6:00 am (0500 GMT) Saturday, civilians returned to the streets of the capital, where French troops in armoured vehicles maintained a visible presence. An order by President Michel Djotodia for all armed groups except international forces to return to their barracks had gone largely unheeded by Friday evening, although locals said there appeared to be fewer armed men on the streets.
South Africa on Saturday began preparations to host US President Barack Obama and other world leaders eager to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela during 10 days of mourning for the anti-apartheid icon. On Friday President Jacob Zuma announced the mourning period for Mandela, the founding father of modern South Africa and its first black leader, after he died late Thursday aged 95, surrounded by friends and family. Obama, America's first black president, will travel to South Africa next week, the White House said, joining a raft of world leaders for a huge December 10 memorial service. Mandela's body will lie in state in Pretoria for three days before he receives a state burial on December 15 in his boyhood home of Qunu.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe paid tribute to Nelson Mandela on Saturday, describing the South African liberation icon as "a champion of the oppressed". "Mr Mandela's renowned political life will forever remain a beacon of excellence," Mugabe, Africa's oldest ruler at 89, said in his first official reaction, carried by the state-run newspaper The Herald. Mandela, the founding father of modern South Africa and its first black leader, died late Thursday aged 95. "The late Nelson Mandela will forever remain in our minds as an unflinching fighter for justice," said Mugabe, who early this year criticised Mandela for being too soft on whites after the end of apartheid.