|File photo taken on Feb. 3, 2005, shows former South African President Nelson Mandela waves to audience of his speech on Trafagar Square in London, Britain. Nelson Mandela has died, according to South African President. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)
Click for more photos and special report on Mandela>>
JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- A large number of high profile guests have begun arriving in Johannesburg to attend events commemorating former South African president Nelson Mandela, the government said on Monday.
Some 70 heads of state and government have confirmed that they will take part in the memorial service or state funeral of Mandela, according to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRC).
These include U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
International and regional organizations from the United Nations and European Commission to the African Union (AU), for example, have also confirmed attendance.
The UN will be represented by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the AU will be represented by Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
The large number of high profile guests arriving was unprecedented, said DIRC spokesman Clayson Monyela. "I don't think it has ever happened before," he said.
"The world literally is coming to South Africa. On the numbers for the memorial service, we are sitting at over 70 heads of state and government in office and we are looking at 10 for former heads of state and government," Monyela said.
Logistically, Monyela said it was a tough task but the government was up to the challenge in ensuring that everything goes according to plan.
The government has set Dec. 10 for official memorial service at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. Then Mandela's body will lie in state in the Union Buildings in Pretoria for three days starting from Dec. 11.
South Africans and selected international visitors and guests will be able to view Mandela's remains during this time.
On Saturday, Dec. 14, Mandela's remains will be transported to the Eastern Cape from air force base Waterkloof in Pretoria, where the ruling African National Congress will bid Mandela farewell.
Also on Saturday, a procession will take place from Mthatha to Qunu where the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony.
On Sunday, Dec. 15, a funeral service and interment ceremony will take place at Mandela's home and final resting place at Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
The majority of international guests will not travel to Qunu for the funeral, according to the DIRC.
Mandela died of a long standing lung disease on Thursday at his Johannesburg home, at the age of 95.
Profile: South Africa's ex-president, anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela
AU holds memorial services for late Mandela
ADDIS ABABA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU), the South African Embassy and the Ethiopian government on Sunday held memorial services for the late anti-apartheid leader and former South African president, Nelson Mandela, at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Hosted by Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, and Febe Potgieter Gqubule, former South African ambassador, the memorial services kicked off with interfaith prayers by religious leaders. Full story
U.S. president to attend Mandela memorial service Tuesday
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will attend a memorial service for late former South African President Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, a White House official said on Saturday.
First lady Michelle will accompany the president on his trip, but U.S. media said the official did not disclose more details about the president's schedule and his delegation. Full story
Canadian PM to pay final respects to Mandela
OTTAWA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Saturday that he, together with his three predecessors, will travel to Johannesburg on Sunday to pay their last respects to former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died two days ago.
In a statement, Harper praised Mandela as "one of the world's most respected political and moral leaders." Full story
Preparations in full swing for Mandela's funeral: government
JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The South African government announced on Saturday that preparations are in full swing for the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela.
Among the arrangements, Mandela's body is being prepared by the Military Health Service of the South African National Defense Force to lie in state at the Union Buildings from Dec. 11 to 13, said Collins Chabane, Minister in the Presidency. Full story
Mandela's death not affects S. African future political developments: experts
JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The death of former president Nelson Mandela "will not pose" an impact on South African future political direction and developments, analysts said on Saturday.
In an interview with Xinhua, University of South Africa (UNISA) Political Sciences Professor, Dirk Kotze said Mandela was not "actively involved" in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and national politics since his retirement in 1999.Full story
Chinese president mourns "world-renowned statesman" Mandela
BEIJING, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday expressed deep grief over the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95.
In a message of condolences to his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, Xi said the Chinese people will always remember his extraordinary contribution to the development of bilateral relations and the cause of human progress.Full story