Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela dies at 95

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela dies at 95

PanARMENIAN.Net - South Africa's first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95, BBC News reported.

Mandela led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison for his political activities. He had been receiving intensive medical care at home for a lung infection after spending three months in hospital.

Announcing the news on South African national TV, President Jacob Zuma said Mandela was at peace. "Our nation has lost its greatest son," Zuma said. "Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss."

Zuma said Mandela - who is known affectionately by his clan name, Madiba - had died shortly before 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT). He said he would receive a full state funeral, and flags would be flown at half-mast.

Crowds have gathered outside the house where Mandela died, some flying South African flags and wearing the shirts of the governing African National Congress, which Mandela once led. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was one of the world's most revered statesmen after preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.

Born in 1918, Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943, as a law student.

He and other ANC leaders campaigned against apartheid. Initially he campaigned peacefully but in the 1960s the ANC began to advocate violence, and Mandela was made the commander of its armed wing.

He was arrested for sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, serving most of his sentence on Robben Island.

It was forbidden to quote him or publish his photo, but he and other ANC leaders were able to smuggle out messages of guidance to the anti-apartheid movement.

He was released in 1990 as South Africa began to move away from strict racial segregation - a process completed by the first multi-racial elections in 1994.

Mandela, who had been awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993 jointly with Mr de Klerk, was elected South Africa's first black president. He served a single term, stepping down in 1999.

After leaving office, he became South Africa's highest-profile ambassador, campaigning against HIV/Aids and helping to secure his country's right to host the 2010 football World Cup.

He was also involved in peace negotiations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and other countries in Africa and elsewhere.

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