Deputy Foreign Min Represents Bulgaria at Mandela Memorial ServiceDiplomacy | December 10, 2013, Tuesday // 13:33| views
80 000 South Africans are paying tribute to late President Nelson Mandela in Soweto, photo EPA/BGNES
Bulgaria is represented at the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Angel Velichkov.
Due to heavy rain, the ceremony began about an hour late at FNB Stadium in Soweto, the Johannesburg township which was the stronghold of support for Mandela's anti-apartheid struggle, with a choir performance of South African national anthem.
Despite the heavy rain, 80 000 people are attending the memorial for former South African president.
As the memorial service is one of the biggest gatherings of international dignitaries in recent years, attended by almost 100 world leaders, it remains unclear why Bulgaria has not sent one of its top Statesmen.
Commenting for the public TV, BTN, which is broadcasting live the ceremony, former Bulgarian Foreign Minister, Solomon Passy, voiced disappointment of the fact. He said Bulgaria has missed a huge opportunity to show solidarity and commitment to tolerance.
Passy further noted that Bulgaria could have been represented at least by a former head of state.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is attending Tuesday's memorial, along with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Labor leader Ed Miliband and former British Prime Ministers Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major.
Three former US presidents, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, are also attending, as are Francois Hollande and Nickolas Sarkozy of France, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.
Celebrity mourners on the list include Oprah Winfrey, Bono, Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel.
The crowds will be addressed by South African President Jacob Zuma. US President Barack Obama is also scheduled to speak, along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Cuban President Raul Castro.
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