Obama, Bush, Clinton to Travel to South Africa

By: AP
By: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- At least three American presidents will travel to South Africa to attend memorial services for anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

The White House says President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to South Africa next week to pay their respects. They will be joined on Air Force One by former President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush. Former President George H.W. Bush was invited but is unable to attend. It's unclear whether Jimmy Carter, the only other living American president, would travel to South Africa.

The White House says travel arrangements are still being made and it's unclear when the Obamas and Bushes would depart. A memorial service for Mandela will be held Tuesday at a stadium in Johannesburg, followed by a smaller funeral on Dec. 15 in Mandela's hometown.

Former President Bill Clinton says he also plans to travel to South Africa, along with his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It's not clear whether the Clintons would also fly on Air Force One. Clinton told CNN it will be "the chance to say good-bye one last time."
Meanwhile, the White House says the president spoke today with Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, and expressed condolences for the loss of her husband, both from his family and from the American people.



Report: Central African death toll up to 280

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) -- National radio in Central African Republic says the death toll from violence in the country has increased to at least 280 people.

Christian militias attacked the capital of Bangui at dawn Thursday, killing scores of people and setting off chaotic fighting.

French troops and equipment are now pouring into the country to prevent it from tipping into total anarchy.

Bodies lay decomposing along the roads Friday in a capital too dangerous for many to collect the corpses. Citing Red Cross officials, national radio said the toll from the violence was now above 280.

Christian civilians, fearing retaliatory attacks by the mostly Muslim ex-rebels who control Central African Republic, have fled by the thousands to the airport guarded by French forces. The mostly Muslim armed fighters who rule the country hunted door-to-door for their enemies.



CHICAGO (AP) -- Illinoisans are mourning the death of Nelson Mandela.

Gov. Pat Quinn says few figures of the 20th century changed the world as much as Mandela. He called Mandela a "hero of democracy."

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says Mandela had courage and commitment coupled with "a caring and forgiving heart." Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called Mandela "one of the greatest moral leaders of our time." Cardinal Francis George of Chicago says Mandela is a model for responding to injustice.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Mandela's message of peace and hope resonates with Chicagoans two decades after the late South African president visited the city.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush remembered helping to organize Mandela's visit to Chicago. U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley said Mandela's legacy includes "tolerance, equality and perseverance."


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