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Wrapping up South Africa visit Annan meets Mandela

Wrapping up South Africa visit, Annan meets Mandela, visits Soweto memorial

Wrapping up his visit to South Africa today, Secretary-General Kofi Annan conferred with former President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg and toured Soweto, where he laid a wreath at a memorial for one of the first victims of the uprising in that township 30 years ago.

In addition to paying tribute to the memory of 12-year-old Hector Pieterson while in Soweto, the Secretary-General held a dialogue with civil society representatives.

Mr. Annan, who earlier in the week met with President Thabo Mbeki and addressed the South African parliament in Cape Town, later arrived in Madagascar on the second leg of a visit that will also take him to the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In the DRC, where the UN is fielding over 16,800 uniformed personnel to back up a peace agreement that ended the most lethal fighting in the world since World War II, he will address the Congolese people and is expected to travel outside Kinshasa, the capital, to Kisangani.

The UN is currently helping to organize national elections for 18 June, in the largest and most expensive such operation it has ever undertaken, to cement the transition to peace and democracy after a six-year civil war that cost 4 million lives through fighting and the attendant humanitarian catastrophe.

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