Desmond Tutu prays for Mandela

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Updated 24 December 2012
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Desmond Tutu prays for Mandela

JOHANNESBURG: South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he is praying for a prompt recovery for former leader Nelson Mandela, who has been hospitalized for more than two weeks.
Radio 702, a South African station, yesterday broadcast an interview with Tutu in which he says he exchanged telephone text messages about Mandela with the anti-apartheid icon’s wife, Graca Machel.
Mandela who is 94, has been hospitalized since Dec. 8. He was diagnosed with a lung infection and also had gallstone surgery. Officials say his condition has improved.
Tutu and Mandela are Nobel laureates because of their role in the struggle against white minority rule. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years and served one five-year term as president after he was elected in South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.
A presidential aide declined yesterday to give any update on his current state of health.
The ailing anti-apartheid icon is receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection and has also had a procedure to remove gallstones.
“We all wish that he could be home for Christmas, but first and foremost he needs to get better,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told AFP.
“At this stage there is no update on his condition and his doctors have given no indication about when Madiba will be discharged,” Maharaj said, using Mandela’s clan name.
Only President Jacob Zuma’s office is tasked with issuing updates about the health of the revered elder statesman.
Zuma visited Mandela on Saturday and but did not reveal details about his condition except to say that he was “responding to treatment.”


Zuma had told delegates at the end of the ruling ANC’s party conference on Thursday that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s condition was serious when he was admitted to hospital but said he was a fighter.
“Madiba is an unparalleled fighter and has always been so. He has met all his health challenges with his tremendous fortitude and grace.” This is the longest time Mandela has spent in hospital since being released from prison in 1990 after 27 years.
He was previously hospitalized for an acute respiratory infection in January 2011, when he was kept as an inpatient for two nights.
He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after the end of apartheid, and stepped down in 1999 after spending one term in office.
Official reports about his treatment have not revealed much information about the seriousness of Mandela’s condition nor details about the sort of treatment he is undergoing.
A government official initially said Mandela was being cared for at the One Military hospital outside Pretoria, the country’s top military facility. Press reports later said he was at the private Mediclinic Heart Hospital in the capital, but this has not been confirmed by the government.
Radio 702 reported that security is tight outside the Mediclinic.
FROM: AGENCIES


Kim’s ‘bitter sorrow’ as North Korea bus crash kills 32 Chinese

Updated 23 min 48 sec ago
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Kim’s ‘bitter sorrow’ as North Korea bus crash kills 32 Chinese

  • Beijing is Pyongyang’s sole major ally, providing an important economic and political buffer against international opprobrium
  • For some, North Korea provides a window into what Communist China may have looked like decades ago

BEIJING: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has expressed his “bitter sorrow” after dozens of Chinese tourists were killed when a bus they were traveling in plunged off a bridge.
Thirty-two Chinese tourists and four North Koreans perished in the accident south of Pyongyang Sunday night, Chinese officials and state media said. Two other Chinese nationals were injured.
In a rare admission of negative news from North Korea’s tightly controlled propaganda network, the KCNA news agency on Tuesday said Kim met personally with the Chinese ambassador in Pyongyang and later visited survivors in hospital.
The Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling party, carried a front-page on Kim’s actions, including pictures of him in a doctor’s white coat, holding the two survivors’ hands as they lay in their hospital beds.
Although such a move might be unsurprising in other countries, it is an unusual portrayal of Kim, who is usually shown presiding over formal meetings or visiting work or army units.
Kim “said that the unexpected accident brought bitter sorrow to his heart and that he couldn’t control his grief at the thought of the bereaved families who lost their blood relatives,” KCNA reported.
The North Korean leader said his people “take the tragic accident as their own misfortune,” it added.
The fulsomeness of Kim’s comments reflects the importance of China — and its tourists — to his country and economy.
Beijing is Pyongyang’s sole major ally, providing an important economic and political buffer against international opprobrium.
Their relationship was forged in the blood of the Korean War, and while it has soured more recently, with China increasingly exasperated by the North’s nuclear antics and enforcing UN Security Council sanctions against it, there has been an improvement in recent weeks.
Last month, Kim embarked on his first overseas trip since inheriting power in 2011 to finally pay his respects to Chinese President Xi Jinping and was warmly welcomed in Beijing.
China is by far the biggest source of tourists for the North, with direct flights and a long land border connecting the neighbor, and tens of thousands are believed to visit every year, many crossing via train through the Chinese border city of Dandong.
For some, North Korea provides a window into what Communist China may have looked like decades ago.
In contrast Western visitors to the North once averaged around 5,000 a year, but numbers have been hit recently by a US travel ban — Americans accounted for around 20 percent of the market — and official warnings from other countries.
Xinhua news agency reported that the bus had fallen from a bridge in North Hwanghae province.
China’s state broadcaster showed images of a large overturned vehicle, with light rain falling on rescue vehicles at night and doctors attending to a patient.
KCNA said the crash was “an unexpected traffic accident that claimed heavy casualties among Chinese tourists.” It gave no breakdown on the numbers killed or injured.
The Chinese foreign ministry said Tuesday a group of officials and five medical experts had arrived in Pyongyang to assist the North in treating the injured and dealing with the aftermath.
They also visited a temporary morgue for the dead to check their identities and express condolences, it said.
North Hwanghae province lies south of Pyongyang and stretches to the border with South Korea. It includes the city of Kaesong, an ancient Korean capital with historical sites and, until recently, a manufacturing complex operated with the South.
The tour group was traveling by bus from Kaesong to Pyongyang when the accident happened, according to the independent Seoul-based website NK News, which cited an unnamed source.
North Korean roads are largely poor and potholed, and in many areas, they are dirt rather than tarmac. Vehicles are sometimes forced to ford rivers or take detours when bridges are unpassable.
But the route from Pyongyang to Kaesong is one of the best in the country.
It runs north-south from the Chinese border to the Demilitarized Zone on the border with South Korea but has little traffic, like all North Korean highways.
Tank traps have been installed along the road in many locations — sets of high concrete columns on either side of the road that can easily be blown up to create an obstruction for invading armored vehicles.