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World leaders pay tribute to Nelson Mandela

February 5, 2014 at 2:04 am

Leaders around the world have paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa, aged 95.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described Mandela as a “source of inspiration” to the world. He told reporters at the UN’s headquarters in New York that Mandela was “an inspiration to the world and we must be inspired by his wisdom, determination and commitment to make the world a better place.”

UN Security Council members expressed deep admiration for the extraordinary moral and political leadership of the former South African President, extending their condolences to his family and to the government and people of South Africa.

In Washington, US President Barack Obama mourned Mandela saying he was a “brave and good man”. In a short statement following the announcement of Mandela’s passing, Obama praised his “strong will to sacrifice his freedom for the freedom of others”.

Former US President Bill Clinton described Mandela as an “unsung hero of human dignity and freedom. The history will remember Mandela as a hero for human dignity, freedom, peace and reconciliation. We all live in a better world thanks to Mandela.”

In Brussels, the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, remarked that: “It is a sad day not only for Africa but also for the entire international community. We mourn the death of one of the greatest figures of our time.”

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, noted that “South Africa has lost her father and the world has lost a hero. We pay tribute to one of the most humane men in our time.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said that “one of the brightest lights of our world has gone out.” He described Mandela as “not just a hero of our time, but a hero of all time.” Cameron added the British flag will be lowered outside Downing Street in respect for Mandela’s passing.

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, observed that Nelson Mandela was “an extraordinary and inspiring man”.

In Paris, French President Francois Hollande praised Mandela, saying that he was “exceptionally resistant” and “a terrific fighter who represented the South African people and the basis of unity and pride of Africa as a whole.”

The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, said that Mandela was a charismatic giant, adding that “the father of South Africa has died; the driving force for freedom and for reconciliation”.

In Cairo, the Egyptian authorities issued the following statement: “The Presidency of the Arab Republic of Egypt mourns with great sadness and sorrow the great fighter Nelson Mandela, the former President of the Republic of South Africa who shared close and historic ties with Egypt and the Egyptians on the path of struggle to achieve noble human values marked by the struggle against racial discrimination and for democracy, peace and national reconciliation.”

In Ramallah, President Mahmoud Abbas paid respect to Mandela by pointing out that “the whole world and Palestine have lost Mandela who stood with us and was the bravest and the world’s most important man to stand with us.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described Mandela as a great commander who achieved much. On Friday, Japanese media quoted Abe as saying that Mandela fought for the elimination of racial discrimination with a strong determination.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff stated: “we bow down before Mr Mandela’s memory… That great leader’s example will guide all those who fight for social justice and world peace.”

The President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, sent a letter of condolences to his South African counterpart President Jacob Zuma, conveying that “Mandela was one of the greatest liberators in history and an icon of true democracy. A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hong Li, noted that Nelson Mandela was “a prominent politician who earned the respect and love of people around the world. Mr Mandela was an old friend of China and spent great effort to improve relations between the two countries.” Nobel Prize Laureate and former Polish President Lech Walesa described Mandela as “a symbol of the struggle against apartheid and racism”.

Desmond Tutu, the prominent fighter against apartheid, observed that Mandela “has taught us how to live together and to believe in ourselves and in each other.”