[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
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.