Dec 09, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa left for South Africa this afternoon to attend the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela.
The President will arrive in South Africa this evening and attend funeral services on Tuesday (Dec. 10) and Wednesday (Dec. 11).
The official memorial service is scheduled to take place Tuesday morning at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg. Memorial services will take place at several different locations in order to give an opportunity for more people to pay their last respects to the late President Mandela. A large number of heads of state are expected to attend the official memorial ceremony at the stadium along with a large number of other dignitaries.
The state funeral and burial for Mandela will be held in his rural hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province on Sunday December 15.
On Wednesday, President Rajapaksa will go to Pretoria to view President Mandela's remains that will be lying in state at the Union Buildings.
Following his visit to South Africa, President Rajapaksa will then travel to Kenya for a four-day state visit during which he is scheduled to conduct bilateral discussions with Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, attend a roundtable discussion with officials from the U.N. Environment Program and U.N. Habitat, and partake in a business forum.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Deputy Minister of Civil Aviation Geethanjana Gunawardena, Chief Minister of the Uva Province Sashendra Rajapaksa, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin De Vass Gunawardena, and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga accompanied the President to South Africa.