Today 10 December
Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - French troops on Monday began disarming fighters in the Central African Republic to try to restore security after a swell in sectarian violence that claimed hundreds of lives. Bangui was relatively calm after days of fighting involving former Seleka rebels in which nearly 400 people were killed, although the stench of dead bodies still permeated some areas of the capital. The armed men who spread terror on the streets of Bangui had all but disappeared by Monday, and French military spokesman Gilles Jaron said some had already disarmed. France has deployed 1,600 soldiers to the notoriously unstable country, which has plunged into chaos since the Seleka rebels seized power in a March coup, with reports of widespread rape and public killings.
Soweto (South Africa) (AFP) - Huge crowds of grieving South Africans converged on Soweto's World Cup stadium on Tuesday, to sit side-by-side with presidents, priests, queens and sheikhs at a memorial service for unifying global icon Nelson Mandela. Close to 100 world leaders were among 80,000 people expected to cram into the venue in Soweto -- the crucible of Mandela's anti-apartheid struggle -- to bid farewell to a man whose life story earned uncommon universal respect. Wrapped in the South African flags or yellow-green coloured shawls printed with the slogan "Mandela Forever," they danced and jogged towards the stadium entrance, some singing in Zulu: "Mandela is not sleeping, just kneeling." Thousands more were boarding free trains from central Johannesburg, mixing excitedly together on the platform and in the compartments -- men and women of all ages and races.
South African security forces had only days to implement a rough plan for Nelson Mandela's grand funeral, based partly on blueprints of past major events like the 2010 World Cup final. South Africa's first black president had been seriously ill for some time, but his death still posed a major organisational challenge as a small army of world leaders, dignitaries and celebrities asked to attend the state send-off. Security preparations which would normally take months for the likes of US President Barack Obama had to be compressed into a few days. After that, Mandela's body will lie in state for three days in Pretoria before being taken for burial Sunday in his rural boyhood home of Qunu.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — My mother was furious. The operators of the gas station in rural, racist South Africa had taken her money to fill the car, but would not give her the key to the toilets. They were for whites only.
By Stella Mapenzauswa and David Dolan JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - World leaders, from U.S. President Barack Obama to Cuba's Raul Castro, will pay homage to Nelson Mandela at a mass memorial in South Africa on Tuesday that will recall his gift for bringing enemies together across political and racial divides. Obama and Castro, whose countries maintain an ideological enmity lasting more than 50 years, are among the designated orators at a Johannesburg soccer stadium where 23 years earlier Mandela - freshly freed from apartheid jail - was hailed by cheering supporters as the hope for a new South Africa. Coinciding with U.N.-designated Human Rights Day, the memorial service for Mandela in the 95,000-seat Soccer City stadium is the centerpiece of a week of mourning for the globally-admired statesman, who died on Thursday aged 95. Tens of thousands of ordinary South Africans will be joining scores of leaders from across the world to honor a leader whose life of imprisonment and political struggle made him a global symbol of integrity and forgiveness.