Bush signs law to remove Mandela’s ‘terrorist’ tag

July 2nd, 2008 - 12:11 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 1 (IANS) President George W. Bush signed a bill Tuesday removing Nelson Mandela’s name from its lists of terrorists - over 14 years after he was elected South Africa’s president. The new law removes from US immigration watch lists the name of the South African leader and others on the list because of a relationship with the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party since 1994.

This would allow Mandela and other ANC leaders to visit the US without the secretary of state having to certify that he is not a terrorist. The tag triggered additional investigation into an individual’s application for a visa to the US.

Nobel laureate Mandela became South Africa’s first black president May 10, 1994 heading a ‘Government of National Unity’ which replaced a white-ruled state in the country’s first democratic elections with full enfranchisement.

Bush signed the bill passed by the US Congress last Thursday after an agreement between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had called the additional review of ANC members’ visas “embarrassing” and has advocated a legislative change to lift it.

“Congress finally stands ready to rid US immigration law of this anachronistic blight,” said Howard L. Berman, the bill’s author and Democratic Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The Senate and House have now both affirmed that America’s place is on the side of those who fought against apartheid, and there should be no discrimination in our legal code based on their ANC association alone,” he said.

For decades the ANC resisted apartheid and advocated the rights of black South Africans - first through non-violence and community activism, and then through the actions of its military wing.

The South African government banned the ANC in 1960, and the US denied entry to ANC members based on the group’s activities.

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