Mandela's memorial a 'security headache' for South Africa
Public is free to turn up at huge event attended by 50 world leaders and a host of celebrities
PAYING tribute to Nelson Mandela will be the "principal occupation" at the Houses of Parliament in London today as MPs and peers line up to commemorate the life and achievements of South Africa's first black president.
The tributes, which will be paid during the opening of business in both houses, will be followed by a civic event at Westminster Hall later in the week. It was the venue for Mandela's historic address to both houses in 1996, the BBC reports.
Meanwhile, the arrangements for Mandela's state funeral in his birthplace, Qunu, as well as Tuesday's public memorial service at the Soweto stadium in Johannesburg, are taking shape.
Prince Charles will represent the Queen at the funeral on 15 December, because the length of the journey means the monarch is unable to attend, the BBC reports.
The four-hour memorial service in Johannesburg will be attended by a who's-who of heads of state and celebrities, the Daily Telegraph reports. At least 50 world leaders including David Cameron and President Obama will be there as well as entertainers including Bono, Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox, Oprah Winfrey and the Spice Girls.
Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani has confirmed he'll attend Tuesday's service as will Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. Indeed the only countries which haven't confirmed if any of their dignitaries will attend the event are Russia, Israel, Libya and Syria, sources said.
The Telegraph says Obama is likely to make an address at the stadium and some of the musicians on the invitation list are likely to perform. No details have been released to date.
The memorial service throws up "almost unheard-of challenges for the South African government and the international security services mandated to protect their VIPs", according to The Telegraph. The government has said that any member of the public who wants to attend the service will be free to do so without prior accreditation. In a bid to ward off "terror scares", a large portion of Johannesburg's arterial roads and airspace will be closed.
The scale of the two events appears to have caught South African authorities off guard, The Guardian says. There were chaotic scenes at Johannesburg's Nasrec Expo centre yesterday as several hundred of the estimated 3,000 local and international journalists covering the event scrambled to get official accreditation.
When a broken printer slowed registrations to a crawl, the vast car park became a "bedlam of swearing in many languages", the paper says. One or two journalists from local media skipped the queue by appealing to officials in Xhosa and Afrikaans.