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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Mandela avoids Bush meeting
By Mohammed Allie
BBC, Cape Town

Even though he is no longer President of South Africa, a meeting with the legendary Nelson Mandela is always high on the agenda of visiting heads of state and indeed most foreign dignitaries.

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa
Mr Mandela opposed President Bush's military attacks against Iraq
But President George W Bush, leader of the world's most powerful country, the United States, will not get to meet Mr Mandela when he visits South Africa next week during his first visit to the African continent.

And President Bush can also expect a hot reception from protesters who are already planning their action.

Given former President Nelson Mandela's stinging criticism of Mr Bush, which included Mr Mandela saying Bush can't think properly, it comes as no surprise that the two men won't be meeting.

Whether it is a coincidence or just strategic planning, the fact is that Mr Mandela will not be in the country when the American entourage arrives next Tuesday.

'Senior citizen'

Mr Mandela, who jokingly threatened to speak to the American leader's father, former President George Bush about his son's behaviour, has come out strongly on more than one occasion against the American-led war on Iraq.

The South African Government has played down the issue saying as a senior citizen, Mr Mandela was entitled to his views.

George W Bush, US President
Anti-war groups call for demonstrations against Mr Bush

Mr Mandela's office also revealed that they had not had a request for a meeting with Bush.

While Mr Mandela will not be around to welcome the American leader, the anti-war coalition, a lobby group which claims to have the support of 300 organisations is planning a hot reception for Mr Bush.

The group, which strongly opposed the war on Iraq, has already started an awareness campaign by issuing anti-Bush leaflets.

They have also asked local and international supporters to voice their objection to the visit in writing to President Thabo Mbeki's office.

Next week the coalition plans to picket American consulates around the country and also outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria where President Mbeki is due to meet Mr Bush.


SEE ALSO:
African protests at war on Iraq
21 Mar 03  |  Africa
Profile: Nelson Mandela
24 Jul 01  |  Africa
No peace for workaholic Mandela
02 Mar 03  |  Africa


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