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Huge Mandela statue hailed

South Africa on Monday unveiled a gigantic statue of antiapartheid fighter Nelson Mandela to cheers and singing at the Union Buildings in the capital.

The mood was joyous in Pretoria as a military band played and fighter jets flew overhead to honor Mandela after 10 days of mourning over his death ended Sunday with his burial.

President Jacob Zuma presided over the unveiling, which preceded a party in celebration of the Day of Reconciliation, a national holiday.

The statue stands on the grounds of the Union Buildings, where Mandela delivered his inaugural speech after becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.

The buildings had been a hated symbol of the apartheid regime to many South Africans. - AP