Miqati Joins World Leaders for Mandela Memorial

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati joined on Tuesday some 100 heads of state and other luminaries in South Africa to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, a global symbol of reconciliation.

Miqati's press office said the caretaker PM represented Lebanon at the memorial service for Mandela.

It quoted him as saying that Mandela was one of the remarkable examples in the world who fought for freedom.

He succeeded in leading the change from a political system based on racial discrimination to democracy, Miqati said.

Mandela will always be remembered as a person who scarified most of his life to provide a better future for millions of people, he said.

“We cannot forget Mandela's role in supporting the cause of Arab countries and calling for the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he stated.

“The world will miss the freedom icon,” Miqati added.

Tuesday's memorial service was held at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, the Johannesburg township that was a stronghold of support for the anti-apartheid struggle that Mandela embodied as a prisoner of white rule for 27 years and then during a peril-fraught transition to the all-race elections that made him president.

Lebanon's Charge d'Affaires in South Africa, Ara Khatchadourian, accompanied Miqati to the service, the press office said.

The 95,000-capacity soccer venue was the spot where Mandela made his last public appearance at the closing ceremony of the World Cup.

The memorial event was part of an extended state funeral that will culminate in Mandela's burial on Sunday in the rural village of Qunu where he spent his early childhood.

Miqati met on Monday with members of the Lebanese community in South Africa.

He hailed the 35,000-strong community there for being “united” and having close ties with their home country.

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