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Mandela was only taken off US terrorism watchlist in 2008

South Africa’s apartheid regime designated the African National Congress as a terrorist organisation as it fought against racial segregation.

Nelson Mandela in 1961 aged 42.
Nelson Mandela in 1961 aged 42.
Image: AP Photo/File

DAYS BEFORE HIS 90th birthday, the United States gave Nelson Mandela a special present.

On 1 July 2008, more than eighteen years after his release from a South African prison, then-President George W Bush signed a bill which removed Mandela from the US terror watch list.

Mandela and other South African leaders had been added to the list by order of South Africa’s apartheid regime which designated the African National Congress (ANC) as a terrorist organisation as it fought against racial segregation in the country.

Up until his removal from the list, Mandela had to apply for special permission in order to be able to visit the United States.

“He had no place on our government’s terror watch list and I’m pleased to see this bill finally become law,” John Kerry, former Democratic candidate for president and current US Secretary of State, said at the time.

Condoleeza Rice, the Secretary of State under President Bush, said the restrictions were “a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader Nelson Mandela”.

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The bill, named HR 5690, stated that it would “exempt the African National Congress from treatment as a terrorist organisation for certain acts or events [and] provide relief for certain members of the African National Congress regarding admissibility.”

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also described the ANC as a “typical terrorist organisation” in 1987, leading to condemnation from human rights supporters.

Nelson Mandela will be given a state funeral in South Africa on 15 December. He is to be laid to rest in his home town of Qunu.

Read: Nelson Mandela’s funeral to be held on 15 December >

A world mourns: Memories of Mandela grace the front pages >

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