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South Africa's Nelson Mandela dies at 95

December 05. 2013 4:49PM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Nelson Mandela, who guided South Africa from the shackles of apartheid to multi-racial democracy, died today. He was 95.

South African President Jacob Zuma made the announcement, declaring it an "important national matter."

Mandela has been critically ill with a lung infection for five months.

He was an icon of peace and reconciliation who came to embody the struggle for justice around the world.

Imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against white minority rule, Mandela emerged determined to use his prestige and charisma to bring down apartheid while avoiding a civil war.

"The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come," Mandela said in his acceptance speech on becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.

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