independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

President Higgins 'honoured' to speak on behalf of EU

President Michael D Higgins
President Michael D Higgins

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has said he was "honoured" to be asked to speak at a special lunch in South Africa to mark the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Heads of state from around the world were invited to the event in the South African capital Pretoria as thousands of people gathered to file past the freedom fighter's remains in the city's Union Buildings.

Mr Higgins was asked to address the lunch by South African president Jacob Zuma on behalf of the heads of state of the European Union.

The special ceremony was organised to mark the first day of Mandela lying in state.

Earlier, President Higgins paid his respects to the late African leader. He was pictured alongside Bono, who stood out in a room full of suit-wearing officials as he wore a pair of sunglasses and a long scarf.

The coffin holding the legendary anti-apartheid leader will be moved to his final resting place on Sunday, when he will be buried at his childhood village of Qunu in Eastern Cape Province.

"President Higgins was absolutely honoured to be asked to speak at the lunch on behalf of the European leaders," a spokesperson told the Irish Independent.

During his speech, President Higgins told listeners: "Nelson Mandela's legacy will last not only for Africa, but for the world."

Irish Independent

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