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Mikati arrives in S.Africa for Mandela memorial
File - Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)
File - Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)
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BEIRUT: Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati arrived in South Africa Monday to take part in a memorial service for anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela.

A source at Beirut airport said Mikati boarded a regular flight to Johannesburg via Doha, Qatar.

More than 50 heads of state and government officials have announced they will travel to South Africa to pay their respects to Mandela, who died last Thursday.

Over the weekend, Mikati announced that Tuesday would be a day of mourning for Mandela. According to a statement from the premier’s office, flags at state and municipal buildings will be flown at half-mast and television stations will modify their broadcasts to reflect “the importance of this great symbol.”

The commemorations Tuesday will coincide with the Mass to be held for Mandela at the open-air football stadium in Johannesburg.

Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, led the reconciliation efforts in his country after the collapse of the apartheid regime. He died last week at age 95 after a long battle against a lung infection.

Last week, President Michel Sleiman and other leading Lebanese political figures offered condolences over his death.

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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 10, 2013, on page 3.
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