JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday that the group of world leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela will continue its work.
Both men are members of The Elders, an independent group of world leaders and human rights activists that offers advice and guidance on global issues. Mandela became the group's honorary chairman after bringing it together in 2007, though he didn't serve as an active member. His wife, Graca Machel, is a member.
Carter and Annan spoke to The Associated Press after arriving in Johannesburg, ahead of a major memorial Tuesday for Mandela that will draw nearly 100 world leaders and tens of thousands of mourners. Both said they hadn't spoken yet with Machel, but they extended their condolences to the Mandela family.
Carter said Mandela thanked him the first time they met for his daughter Amy, who was arrested three times while a university student for protesting against South Africa's apartheid government. Later, Carter's grandson met Mandela because he wanted "to meet a politician who went to jail before he went into office," the former president said, chuckling.
"The great religions all espouse the same basic principles ... that is humility and peace and forgiveness, compassion," Carter said. "To embed those kinds of personal, admirable attributes into a political environment is almost a miracle."
Those abilities, as well as embracing democracy and the importance of governmental institutions are among Mandela's most lasting legacies, Annan said. That Mandela's death comes as hundreds have been killed in sectarian violence in Central African Republic further show the power of how he knew "to preach reconciliation and peace, as opposed to going to the machetes," Annan said.
"The fact that he stepped down after one term on a continent where that hardly ever happens is a powerful message to all of us," Annan said. "The way he lived his life and what he did should also convey the message to each and every one of us that as individuals, we have power."
The Elders: www.theelders.org
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