BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman and other leading Lebanese political figures offered condolences over the loss of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Friday.
“In my name and on behalf of the Lebanese people, I offer you my heartfelt condolences ... and in the hope that his memory will stay alive in the pages of our modern history,” Sleiman said in a letter to South African President Jacob Zuma.
“I received with sadness the news of the death of the historic leader and former president of your friendly country Nelson Mandela who inspired the world with his path, fighting to eliminate racism and poverty to achieve equality and reconciliation among his people,” he added.
Sleiman said that with the passing of Mandela the world had lost a man who believed in humane principles regardless of race, color or affiliation.
Mandela, the first black South African president who led the reconciliation efforts in his country after the collapse of the apartheid regime, died late Thursday aged 95. He had fought a long battle with a lung infection.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri also paid tribute to Mandela, saying that the late president demonstrated that a diverse society could become a successful model of democracy.
“He proved that a society with all these racial and religious differences and this violent heritage can become a successful pluralistic democracy,” Hariri said, according to a statement from his office.
Hariri said Mandela and his legacy embodied examples of the values of “forgiveness, reconciliation and the recognition of the other.”
Hariri praised Mandela for shunning all vengeful and domineering attitudes by championing values such as dialogue and forgiveness.
“[Mandela was well-aware] that true freedom cannot happen without forgiveness and adherence to the values of justice and coexistence,” Hariri said.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker Nabih Berri also sent letters to Zuma.
In his letter, Berri said “Mandela was a global icon who taught the world that bravery, dignity, humility and forgiveness can surpass adversity.”
The head of Hezbollah’s International Relations Department, Ammar Musawi, expressed his condolences over the loss of Mandela during a meeting with South African Ambassador Sean Penny. Penny, for his part, offered condolences over the recent assassination of a Hezbollah commander.