Nelson Mandela: French flags to fly at half-mast

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France joins in tributes to the passing of the iconic anti-apartheid leader, with prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault saying: 'All humanity is in mourning'.

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All French flags will fly at half-mast in tribute to Nelson Mandela, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday, praising the late anti-apartheid leader as an "extraordinary man", reports NDTV.

"All humanity is in mourning," Ayrault told reporters in Beijing, on the second day of a visit to China.

"France joins in this mourning. She stands alongside the South Africans who are crying today for this great man."

Mandela became a symbol for "all of humanity" added Ayrault. "He leaves us a legacy. We are all responsible for it."

In a statement released earlier, the French head of government said of Mandela: "All his life he fought with courage for justice and against the evil of apartheid."