Crowds gather at Mandela

Nelson Mandela: Political tributes

Nelson Mandela: Political tributes

Prime minister David Cameron:

"A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death – a true global hero. Across the country he loved they will be mourning a man who was the embodiment of grace. Meeting him was one of the great honours of my life. My heart goes out to his family – and to all in South Africa and around the world whose lives were changed through his courage."

Leader of the opposition Ed Miliband:

"The world has lost the inspirational figure of our age. Nelson Mandela taught people across the globe the true meaning of courage, strength, hope and reconciliation. From campaigner to prisoner to President to global hero, Nelson Mandela will always be remembered for his dignity, integrity and his values of equality and justice. He was an activist who became President and a President who always remained an activist. Right to the end of his life he reminded the richest nations of the world of their responsibilities to the poorest. Above all, he showed us the power of people, in the cause of justice, to overcome the mightiest obstacles. He moved the world and the world will miss him deeply. During the struggle against apartheid, the Labour party was proud to stand with the people of South Africa in solidarity. Today we stand with the people of South Africa in mourning."

Former Welsh secretary Peter Hain, whose famiy fled South Africa because of their support for the anti-apartheid movement:

"[On Mandela's 2000 visit to the Labour conference in Brighton] As I escorted him inside, he asked his usual question: 'How's the family?' On hearing my mother was in Swansea's Morriston Hospital with a fractured femur, he stopped immediately and said that he must speak to her. Out came my mobile and, when she answered from her hospital ward, she was greeted with: 'Hello. Nelson Mandela here, do you remember me?'"

Buckingham Palace:

"The Queen was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nelson Mandela last night. He worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today.worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today. Her Majesty remembers with great warmth her meetings with Mr Mandela and sends her sincere condolences to his family and the people of South Africa at this very sad time."

Prince Charles:

"Mr Mandela was the embodiment of courage and reconciliation. He was also a man of great humour and had a real zest for life. With his passing, there will be an immense void not only in his family's lives, but also in those of all South Africans and the many others whose lives have been changed through his fight for peace, justice and freedom. The world has lost an inspired leader and a great man. My family and I are profoundly saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Foreign secretary William Hague:

"It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest moral and political leaders of our time.  His life story is a compelling and inspiringly profound political journey.  An international icon and inspiration to millions, his appeal transcended race, religion and class.  He was at once a leader of immense character and strength, and a man closely attuned to the needs of his people. Nelson Mandela once wrote, “I don’t think there is much history can say about me.”  Yet he will be remembered forever for his lifelong fight against racial oppression, not least during his 27 years of incarceration, and as the first freely elected leader of a multi-racial South Africa.  His name will echo down the ages for his immense contribution to his country, to Africa, and to the world, and his tireless work for peace and reconciliation.  He set a powerful example to us all of sacrifice and enormous fortitude.  His courage, humility and sense of forgiveness have secured his place in history. He will be greatly missed across the world."

South African leader Jacob Zuma:

"Our nation has lost its greatest son, our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves and in him we saw so much of ourselves. Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell. As we gather wherever we are in the country and wherever we are in the world let us recall the values for which Madiba fought. Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another. Let us commit ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage to build a united non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. That is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow. Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination. A determination to live as Madiba has lived. To strive as he has strived and to not rest until we have realised his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa and a better world."

US president Barack Obama:

"I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life.  My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid.  I studied his words and his writings.  The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears.  And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.  So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set:  to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice. For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived — a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.  May God Bless his memory and keep him in peace."

German chancellor Angela Merkel:

"Mandela lead by shining example and his political legacy of peaceful resistance and the rejection of racism will continue to be an inspiration for people around the world. Several years in prison could not break Nelson Mandela or embitter him – out of his message of reconciliation came a new, better South Africa."

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell:

"Nelson Mandela was an African liberation hero and a humanitarian colossus. He ranks with Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King. But he was not without his shortcomings. His presidency did not do enough to tackle poverty and HIV. He failed to speak out against Mugabe’s tyranny in Zimbabwe."

Chancellor George Osborne:

"I grew up in the 1980s and the great protest movement of my childhood, the great campaign of my childhood, was for the release of Nelson Mandela, so he was very much a backdrop to my life, like the lives of many people listening. What I remember about him above all is not just his incredible stamp of freedom, and the endurance of being in prison for so many years, but then turning around and reconciling himself with the people who kept him captive. Not only did he as a result avoid a very bloody civil war in South Africa, but I think he stands for something much bigger even than that, which is that there can be hope and reconciliation. That's the most extraordinary thing about Nelson Mandela."

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas:

"The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free. The name Mandela will stay forever with Palestine and with all Palestinians."