Turkey to send low-level representative to Mandela funeral

Turkey to send low-level representative to Mandela funeral

Turkey to send low-level representative to Mandela funeral

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay. Cihan photo

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay will represent the Turkish government at a memorial service in honor of the late Nelson Mandela, in contrast to other countries around the world that are sending their top politicians to mark the passing of the legendary South African leader.

Atalay has departed for Johannesburg to attend the funeral and the memorial ceremony as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will not be able to pay his condolences in person due to his heavy schedule.

“Nelson Mandela, who is referred to by his clan name Madiba in his country, has become one of the giant symbols of the world’s democratic history thanks to his life-long, honorable fight for respect for people, human rights and freedoms and succeeded in creating a ‘Rainbow Nation’ in which all colors, races and beliefs lived in equality and harmony after winning his fight against a white, racist, minority government,” the deputy prime minister said in a statement released ahead of his trip to South Africa.

The former statesman, who was a Xhosa prince, will be buried at his ancestral home in Qunu village, in the Eastern Cape, on Dec. 15.

A national memorial service for the man who, as the country’s first black president, forged a new multiracial South Africa after helping to dismantle apartheid, will be held on Dec. 10 at Johannesburg’s 94,000-seat Soccer City stadium ahead of the funeral.

Presidents, religious leaders and cultural figureheads from around the world, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are flocking to South Africa for the memorial service and funeral.

Mandela died Dec. 5 at age 95 at his home in Johannesburg.