Australia PM hails Mandela as 'truly great man'

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday hailed Mr Nelson Mandela as "a truly great man" after the anti-apartheid hero died in South Africa aged 95. -- PHOTO: AP
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday hailed Mr Nelson Mandela as "a truly great man" after the anti-apartheid hero died in South Africa aged 95. -- PHOTO: AP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday hailed Mr Nelson Mandela as "a truly great man" after the anti-apartheid hero died in South Africa aged 95.

"Nelson Mandela was one of the great figures of Africa, arguably one of the great figures of the last century," Mr Abbott told Fairfax radio, referring to him as the father of modern South Africa.

"A truly great man," he said.

"And while I never met him, I did read that book A Long Walk To Freedom and I guess the impression we get of Nelson Mandela is someone who suffered but was not embittered but ennobled through that suffering."

Mr Mandela, who was elected South Africa's first black president after spending nearly three decades in prison, had been receiving treatment for a lung infection at his Johannesburg home since September, after three months in hospital in a critical state.

His condition deteriorated and he died following complications from the lung infection, with his family by his side.