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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 12:00 GMT
Winnie Mandela - Iraqi 'human shield'
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has offered to go to Iraq as a human shield.

Her office said that she would first consult with the women's league of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, which she still heads.

Her former husband, Nelson Mandela, is also opposed to the United States-led plans to attack Iraq.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
1991: Convicted of kidnapping
1996: Divorced from Nelson Mandela
2002: Went on trial for fraud

Last week, South Africa President Thabo Mbeki offered to send weapons experts to help Iraq disarm, following its own experience in the 1990s.

"Mrs Madikizela-Mandela believes we have the experience in South Africa of having seen our children needlessly killed."

"She wants to involve women from across all parties and interested groups, on a mother-to-mother basis," the aide said.

'Mother of the nation'

Mrs Madikizela-Mandela, 66, remains extremely popular with ordinary South Africans, despite being marginalised from the corridors of power.

During the struggle against apartheid, she was known as "Mother of the nation".

She was overwhelmingly voted back into the ANC's leadership at last year's congress.

She is currently facing fraud and theft charges amounting to $100,000.

In 1992, she was convicted of kidnapping 14-year-old anti-apartheid activist Stompie Sepei, who was murdered, but her six-year sentence was suspended on appeal.

In the 1990s, South Africa dismantled its nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal which had been established during the apartheid regime.

UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, praised South Africa's disarmament as a model of co-operation, and has urged Iraq to adopt it.

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