Presidents, Royalty Expected for Mandela Memorial

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -
A worker walks in the stands at the FNB Stadium on the edge of Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, ahead of Tuesday’s memorial service for Nelson Mandela, who passed away last Thursday after a long illness at 95. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
A worker walks in the stands at the FNB Stadium on the edge of Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, ahead of Tuesday’s memorial service for Nelson Mandela, who passed away last Thursday after a long illness at 95. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

The memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela on Tuesday is set to be one of the largest such gatherings in generations, with tens of thousands of mourners and dozens of foreign leaders expected.

South African officials say the normal seating capacity of Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium probably won’t suffice to accommodate all the mourners. Security for the event is likely to be tight as the list of presidents, heads of government, royalty and celebrities keeps growing by the hour.

The South African government said Sunday a total of 53 heads of state, government and ministers have confirmed they will be attending the service.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres announced on Sunday that they will not travel to South Africa for the memorial of freedom fighter Nelson Mandela on Tuesday.

A source at the Prime Minister’s office said the trip is too expensive and that there are “logistical concerns” preventing the prime minister from attending.

Here’s a partial list of confirmed attendees compiled by The Associated Press:

  • President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter
  • U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his predecessor, Kofi Annan
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron
  • French President Francois Hollande and his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy
  • German President Joachim Gauck
  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and three of his predecessors
  • Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Prince Felipe
  • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and three of her predecessors, including Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
  • Indian President Pranab Mukherjee
  • Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
  • The Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and King Willem-Alexander
  • Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt
  • Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Crown Prince Haakon
  • Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout
  • European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
  • Top Vatican official Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana