Dec 06, Colombo: The highest tribute the Commonwealth can pay to the late South African leader Nelson Mandela is to preserve the values of democracy, diversity and unity, the Commonwealth Chair in Office Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said today in a message to the South African President Jacob Zuma.
Expressing his sympathies on behalf of the Commonwealth, President Rajapaksa said Nelson Mandela was an "iconic figure who has left an indelible mark on all of us globally."
Describing Mandela as the founding father of modern South Africa, Rajapaksa recalled that under the leadership of Mandela, who represented the highest values of human dignity and statesmanship in contemporary history, South Africa returned to the Commonwealth in 1994.
"Having sacrificed a major part of his illustrious life in prison to end the abhorrent practice of apartheid, he brought new life, dignity and freedom to the people of South Africa, and indeed to the whole of the African continent, which has the largest regional representation in the Commonwealth," the President noted.
"The legacy he leaves behind will indeed be hard to surpass," Commonwealth Chair in Office said conveying "heartfelt sympathies" to President Zuma, the Government and the people of South Africa, and the family members of Mandela on his passing.