'Darkest day' as Dalai Lama cancels trip: Tutu's office

4th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Dalai Lama's decision to cancel his trip to South Africa because of his visa troubles marks "the darkest day", the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre said Tuesday.

"I do not even have the words to say how sad I feel. This is the darkest day," said the centre's spokeswoman Nomfundo Wazala.

"Our officials felt it was not even important to respond to his visa application," she told the Sapa news agency.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama applied for a visa in August, after Tutu invited him to give a lecture as part of the celebrations for the retired archbishop's 80th birthday this week.

South Africa's government had not yet responded to the visa application, although the speech was scheduled for Saturday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said only that the government had taken note of the Dalai Lama's decision.

"Unfortunately he's decided to pull out of the trip, which is his decision, and we have noted that decision," Monyela said.

The Dalai Lama's office in India said the Nobel Peace Prize winner was due to leave for South Africa on Thursday, but said he cancelled the trip because visas had not been issued yet.

"We are, therefore, now convinced that for whatever reason or reasons, the South African government finds it inconvenient to issue a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama," the statement said.

© 2011 AFP

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