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Congress votes to remove Mandela from terror watch list
Nick Juliano
Published: Friday June 27, 2008

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Congress voted Thursday night to remove Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who helped end apartheid, from a watch list of potential terrorists that had precluded his unencumbered travel into the US.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who co-sponsored the legislation in the Senate, praised Congress's actions Friday.

"In recognition of his ninetieth birthday this summer, Nelson Mandela is again honored as one of the world’s strongest voices for human dignity and courage in the face of oppression. Today the United States moved closer at last to removing the great shame of dishonoring this great leader by including him on our government’s terror watch list," Kerry said.

Mandela turned 90 on Friday.

The activist was on the watch list because of activities he undertook with the African National Congress against South Africa's apartheid regime many decades ago. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years before being released in 1990. He became South Africa's president in 1994, the first year in which black South Africans could vote.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently said it was "embarrassing" to still have Mandela's name on the watch list. The bill to de-list him is now headed to President Bush's desk.

“Nelson Mandela served as a beacon for freedom and democracy during a dark time in the history of South Africa. I am pleased that we have finally passed legislation that will honor his commitment and sacrifices by lifting dishonorable travel restrictions imposed upon him and other members of the African National Congress," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), another co-sponsor of the Senate bill. "What we have done today is the right and just thing to do."