The Nelson Mandela Foundation is assuring the public that the former South African president is still alive, after comments by U.S. President George Bush that potentially could be misunderstood.
In Johannesburg, the foundation's chief executive officer, Achmat Dangor, said Friday that Mr. Mandela is alive and well, and enjoying some rest and relaxation at his home.
President Bush invoked the name of Mr. Mandela Thursday in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq. Mr. Bush said the brutality of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge to stop the violence. He went on to say: "Where's Mandela? Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas."
The Mandela foundation spokesman told the South African Press Association he understands that Mr. Bush's comments were made in the context of explaining the difficulty of bringing peace to Iraq. But he said he wanted to assure all South Africans that the 89-year-old former president is very much alive.
Mr. Mandela became South African's first black president in 1994 after serving 27 years in jail for fighting white minority rule. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for guiding the nation peacefully into the post-apartheid era.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.