Mandela opposed to war against Iraq, but not as a human shield

Johannesburg- South Africa (PANA) -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela is still opposed to the US-planned war against Iraq, but has decided against serving as a human shield, his aide said Sunday.
Mandela, who has spoken out against the planned war, had earlier expressed his willingness to be a human shield in Iraq, but explained that the final decision lay with his family.
"The family expressed serious concern and were totally against the move.
Furthermore, he has taken six months off his schedule to write his book, which is absolutely important and would add to the heritage of the country," said Zelda la Grange, Mandela's spokesperson.
He said Mandela lacked the strength to travel to Iraq, but he would continue to speak out against the war.
The former South African leader has lambasted US President George W.
Bush for what he called his "lack of vision," which could plunge the world into chaos.
Meanwhile, Abe Dawjee, National Co-ordinator of Iraq Action Committee, said a South African group made up of 40 people from different religions, races and professions, was preparing to travel to Iraq, to join other volunteers as human shields.
Dawjee said he was encouraged by the response to his call for volunteers.
"We are going to be positioned at schools, hospitals and power stations to protest against the illegal attacks on the infrastructure in terms of the Geneva Convention.
" The volunteers, who are each paying for their trip to Iraq, are expected to depart Monday.
Volunteer Mohamed Variawa, Sales and Marketing Manager for Allifa Spices, said: "I am not doing this for the so-called Islamic Jihad.
But if I have to die to stop the war, then so be it.
" Mandela's former wife and President of the African National Congress (ANC) Women's League, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has also indicated she would be prepared to be a human shield, although her daughter, Zinzi, said it was doubtful her mother would travel to Iraq.
South African Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said: "We are engaged in diplomatic efforts to avert a war against Iraq within the context of the multilateral system of governance in a manner that would obviate a need for people to act as human shields.

09 march 2003 20:09:00

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