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Harper leaves today for South Africa

Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves today for South Africa to join leaders from around the world who are paying final respects to Nelson Mandela.

Harper will attend a public memorial for Mandela on Tuesday in Johannesburg, as well as his lying in state in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Harper will be joined by three of his predecessors, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Kim Campbell who were invited to fly on the prime minister's plane.

Former Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean will also be joining Harper's delegation.

Mulroney spearheaded Canada's efforts to free Mandela from prison and pressure South Africa to end apartheid, while Chretien was prime minister when Mandela was granted honorary Canadian citizenship in 2001.

Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95.

His body will lie in state from Wednesday through Friday.

A state funeral for the former South African president is planned for next Sunday.

The Canadian Press

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