Tributes and expressions of sorrow

Mandela a ‘shining example’, says Merkel

Vladimir Putin: Mandela remained true to his ideals of justice. Photograph:Mikhail Metzel/RIA Novosti

Vladimir Putin: Mandela remained true to his ideals of justice. Photograph:Mikhail Metzel/RIA Novosti


Current and former world leaders as well as advocacy groups and international charities have paid tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said God had been “so good to us in South Africa by giving us Nelson Mandela to be our president at a crucial moment in our history”.

The International Aids Society also paid tribute to Mr Mandela’s “extraordinary life. He focused global attention on the HIV/Aids epidemic “in his homeland, in sub-Saharan Africa and globally”, it said.

The organisation cited Mr Mandela’s speech at the closing ceremony of the XIII International Aids Conference in Durban, which it said brought about “an unprecedented scale-up” of the response to the epidemic.

US president Barack Obama said Mr Mandela’s life and legacy was a touchstone for him and an example “that all humanity should aspire to”. He ordered all US flags to be lowered to half-mast until sunset on Monday.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said Mr Mandela was a “shining example”.

French president François Hollande, who was hosting a summit of African leaders in Paris yesterday, said Mr Mandela “showed that the human spirit not only can break the chains of servitude, but can liberate energies to build a common future”.

India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh said the former president’s death was “a loss to the world” .

In China, President Xi Jinping praised his victory in the struggle and Mr Mandela’s contribution to “the cause of human progress”.

Chinese human rights activists, meanwhile, pointed out that Mr Mandela’s life and death were a reminder of the struggles of homegrown advocates for democracy and an open society, such as the imprisoned Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. “This moment magnifies how evil the current regime is,” activist Hu Jia said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said: “Mandela traversed great hardships and trials, but remained true to the noble ideals of humanism and justice right to the end.”

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe praised Mr Mandela for setting an example of forgiveness. “After he succeeded in abolishing apartheid following a long struggle, he did not seek revenge, but took the lead in national reconciliation,” Mr Abe said.

Turkish president Abdullah Gul said Mr Mandela “changed the lives of his people as well as the thinking of the world” .

Similar messages poured in from leaders of Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.

Former US president Bill Clinton said Mr Mandela will be remembered “as a man of uncommon grace and compassion, for whom abandoning bitterness and embracing adversaries was not just a political strategy but a way of life”.

In the Middle East, the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, found common cause in paying homage. “He was never haughty,” Mr Netanyahu said. “He worked to heal rifts within South African society and succeeded.” Mr Abbas said Mr Mandela was a “symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation” and his death was a great loss for Palestine, whose cause he championed. “The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free,” he said. – (Additional reporting Guardian service)