Today 10 December
Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - French troops on Monday began disarming fighters in the Central African Republic to try to restore security after a swell in sectarian violence that claimed hundreds of lives. Bangui was relatively calm after days of fighting involving former Seleka rebels in which nearly 400 people were killed, although the stench of dead bodies still permeated some areas of the capital. The armed men who spread terror on the streets of Bangui had all but disappeared by Monday, and French military spokesman Gilles Jaron said some had already disarmed. France has deployed 1,600 soldiers to the notoriously unstable country, which has plunged into chaos since the Seleka rebels seized power in a March coup, with reports of widespread rape and public killings.
Soweto (South Africa) (AFP) - Tens of thousands of South Africans converged in sorrow, celebration and pride Tuesday on Soweto's World Cup stadium, to sit side-by-side with presidents, priests and queens at a memorial service for unifying global icon Nelson Mandela. Close to 100 world leaders were among 80,000 people expected to cram into the venue in Soweto -- the crucible of Mandela's anti-apartheid struggle -- to bid farewell to a man whose life story earned uncommon universal respect. Despite the profound sense of national sorrow triggered by Mandela's death last Thursday, the mood was upbeat, with people determined to celebrate the memory of one of the 20th century's towering political figures. Wrapped in the South African flag or yellow-green coloured shawls printed with the slogan "Mandela Forever," they danced and sang -- oblivious to a persistent morning drizzle.
Prime Minister David Cameron praised Nelson Mandela's "generosity and forgiveness" as the Prime Minister arrived at Soccer City stadium in Soweto for Tuesday's memorial service. "There is never a wrong time to do the right thing and his generosity and his forgiveness were so important to bring people together," Cameron said. Asked about the atmosphere in the stadium, Cameron said: "We were told it was appropriate to wear a black tie but when you come and you hear this great noise and this great atmosphere of celebration, it is clear that people here in South Africa want to, yes, say goodbye to this great man, yes commemorate what he did but also celebrate his life and his legacy and I think that is right."
PARIS (AP) — Two French soldiers were killed in combat in Central African Republic's capital, President Francois Hollande's office announced Tuesday, the first French casualties since he ordered a stepped-up military presence in the restive former colony to help quell inter-religious violence.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Joyous, singing South Africans gathered in the rain Tuesday to honor Nelson Mandela at a massive memorial service that is expected to draw some 100 heads of state and other luminaries, united in tribute to a global symbol of reconciliation.