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South Africa prepares for massive Mandela memorial where world leaders will eulogize icon

Tuesday - 12/10/2013, 3:20am  ET

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- An eclectic mix of world leaders including President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will eulogize Nelson Mandela at a massive memorial service Tuesday in South Africa.

The event is being held in the World Cup soccer stadium where the anti-apartheid champion made his last public appearance. FNB stadium is located in Soweto, the black township that was at the center of the violent struggle against apartheid.

A crowd of close to 100,000 mourners is expected, including nearly 100 world leaders. Besides Obama and Raul Castro, eulogies are to be delivered by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and and China's vice president (Li Yuanchao). Other speakers include the presidents of Brazil, Namibia and India, as well as tributes from Mandela's grandchildren. South African President Jacob Zuma is to give the keynote address.

The stage will be protected by bulletproof glass and police promise "thousands" of officers will secure the stadium.

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APPHOTO TH106: This handout image provided on Monday Dec.9, 2013 by the GCIS of the front page of the programme for the memorial service to late South African president Nelson Mandela. Scores of heads of state and government and other foreign dignitaries, including royalty, are beginning to converge on South Africa as the final preparations for Tuesday's national memorial service for liberation struggle icon Nelson Mandela are put in place. (AP Photo/HO, GCIS) (9 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO XMM111: A South African girl held by her mother, kisses a statue of former president Nelson Mandela, at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) (9 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO BA104: Mac Arthur Mti wears badges for sale with the image of late president Nelson Mandela in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) (23 Sep 2013)

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APPHOTO TH804: A young boy watches as a military convoy takes positions near the home and where the late South African president Nelson Mandela will be buried in Qunu, South Africa, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. Scores of heads of state and government and other foreign dignitaries, including royalty, are beginning to converge on South Africa as the final preparations for Tuesday's national memorial service for liberation struggle icon Nelson Mandela are put in place. (AP Photo/Antoine de Ras) SOUTH AFRICA OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES (9 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO TH102: A child looks at a statue depicting former president Nelson Mandela, by artist Marco Cianfanelli, near Howick, South Africa, Monday Dec.9, 2013. This is the place where Mandela was arrested in 1962 and subsequently jailed for 27 years. Mandela died on Dec. 5 aged 95. (AP Photo/John Robinson) (9 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO XCP102: Lasers beam an image of former South African president Nelson Mandela, projected onto Cape Town's Table Mountain, Monday Dec. 9, 2013 to honour Mandela on the eve of a memorial service to be held in Johannesburg. Mandela died last Thursday after a long illness after a long illness aged 95. Mandela will be buried in his hometown village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province on Monday. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht) (9 Dec 2013)

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