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Mandela Says He’ll Retire in 1999

February 15, 1995

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) _ Nelson Mandela says he’ll retire when his presidential term expires in 1999 to spend time with his grandchildren and read.

``In 1999, I will be 80,″ Mandela told the South African Press Association today. ``I don’t think an octogenarian should be meddling in political affairs. I would like to give over to a younger man. But I will be available to give advice.″

Mandela, 76, spent 27 years in prison for trying to overthrow apartheid rule. He was released in 1990 and led the African National Congress in negotiations that set up the nation’s first all-race election last year. The ANC won the election and he became South Africa’s first black president.

``I want to do a lot of things which I always looked forward to, like spend more time with my grandchildren and reading when I want to,″ Mandela said.

His erect gait has become a little bent and the short-cropped hair is gray, but Mandela has maintained a full schedule despite several illnesses and bouts of exhaustion in recent years. He said today that he felt fine and described his health as ``reasonably good for my age.″

Mandela is the nation’s most popular figure by far, and is considered to be the person most capable of pulling together a nation still struggling with racial and social divisions of the past.

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