[QODLink]
Africa
Archbishop Tutu refuses platform with Blair
Nobel Peace laureate pulls out of leadership conference in protest against ex-UK PM's role in US-led Iraq invasion.
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2012 14:12
Blair's office said he was 'sorry' the archbishop had decided to pull out [Reuters]

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said he will boycott an event in protest at sharing a stage with Tony Blair, former British prime minister, over his "morally indefensible" support of the US-led Iraq invasion.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate decided to withdraw as a speaker on Tuesday at a one-day leadership summit in Johannesburg on Thursday after "wrestling with his conscience and taking counsel", his office told organisers.

"Ultimately, the archbishop is of the view that Mr Blair's decision to support the United States' military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible," Tutu's office wrote to organisers.

Blair's office said he was "sorry" the Archbishop had decided to pull out.

"Obviously Tony Blair is sorry that the archbishop has decided to pull out now from an event that has been fixed for months and where he and the archbishop were never actually sharing a platform," his office said in a statement.

Different approaches

Blair's office acknowledged the pair's different approaches to Saddam Hussein's regime.

"As far as Iraq is concerned, they have always disagreed about removing Saddam by force. Such disagreement is part of a healthy democracy," Blair's office said.

The US-led coalition overthrew the Iraqi leader in 2003 in a war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced many more.

Blair is the final guest speaker at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit whose organisers expressed regret at Tutu's "unexpected" withdrawal, saying his contribution would have been invaluable.

"At no point had Archbishop Tutu indicated his discomfort at speaking at the same conference as Prime Minister Blair and therefore his withdrawal was unexpected," Hylton Kallner, Discovery's chief marketing officer, said.

Other speakers at the summit include Garry Kasparov, former chess grandmaster and opposition Russian politician.

299

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.