South Africa: Mandela Condemns US Stance on Iraq

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Former South African president Nelson Mandela has criticised US President George W Bush over Iraq, saying the sole reason for a possible US-led attack would be to gain control of Iraqi oil.

The US stance on Iraq is "arrogant" and would cause "a holocaust", Mr Mandela, a Nobel Peace laureate and one of the world's most respected figures, told a forum in Johannesburg.

He also said UK Prime Minister Tony Blair - who supports Washington over Iraq - was in fact the "US prime minister".

Mr Mandela, 84, accused both the US and UK governments of undermining the United Nations.

"Why does the United States behave so arrogantly?" Mr Mandela asked.

"Their friend Israel has got weapons of mass destruction but because it's their ally they won't ask the United Nations to get rid of them.

"They just want the oil," Mr Mandela went on. "We must expose this as much as possible."

Nelson Mandela called Mr Bush "a president who can't think properly and wants to plunge the world into holocaust".

He said war "would be devastating not just to Iraq but also to the whole of the Middle East and to other countries of the world".

Mr Mandela added that both Mr Bush and Tony Blair were undermining the United Nations.

"Is this because the secretary general of the United Nations [Ghanaian Kofi Annan] is now a black man? They never did that when secretary generals were white," he said.

Mr Mandela has consistently voiced strong opposition against a possible war on Iraq - in line with more diplomatic statements issued by the South African Government.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for President Thabo Mbeki told the BBC that said higher oil prices brought on by any Middle East war would condemn Africa to deep economic crisis.

Mr Mbeki is preparing to leave for Britain to meet Tony Blair at the weekend.

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