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S. Africa says cortege to carry Mandela's body through city three days

  |   Dec. 7, 2013 at 2:13 PM
PRETORIA, South Africa, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Nelson Mandela's body will be borne through the streets of Pretoria in a funeral cortege for three days before his burial, South African officials said.

The announcement Saturday was the latest addition to a schedule of events initiated since the former South African president's death, the BBC reported.

Mourners are being encouraged to line the route the cortege will take Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week on the way to the Union Buildings, where his remains will lie in state.

The government published more details Saturday about the 10-day state funeral for Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95. President Jacob Zuma has designated Sunday an official day of prayer and meditation.

During the 10 days of mourning, flags throughout the country will fly at half-staff. Books of condolences are being circulated throughout the country and online for people to post tributes. The South African Parliament is scheduled to hold a special session to honor the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

A service will be conducted Tuesday at a 95,000-seat stadium in Johannesburg.

After three days of lying in state, Mandela's body will be flown to the remote village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where he grew up, for burial.

In the meantime, vigils continue across South Africa. Hundreds of people have gathered outside the home near Johannesburg where he died, and the thousands of flowers left by mourners are beginning to resemble a wall. In London, long lines of people waiting to sign a book of condolences formed outside the South African High Commission.

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama announced Friday they will attend Mandela's funeral. Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura announced later they will join the Obamas on the trip, the Washington publication the Hill reported.

Former President George H.W. Bush, 89, was invited to travel with Obama, but declined for health reasons.

Former President Jimmy Carter may accompany the other presidents, USA Today reported. Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are planning to attend, the report said.

In announcing Obama's travel plans, White House spokesman Jay Carney did not specify whether the president will attend the large funeral service Tuesday or a private service Dec. 15, or both.

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