SA Prez non-committal on granting visa to Dalai Lama

Johannesburg: South African President Jacob Zuma was non-commital on granting a visa to Dalai Lama as supporters of the exiled Tibetan leader today planned a night vigil to protest the delay.

"The department of international relations and co-operation is dealing with it. I don`t know what will be the final thing. I don`t think that you can get a definite answer from me," Zuma said at a function here.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has invited his fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate to join him for his 80th birthday celebrations this weekend.

The Dalai Lama was also expected to speak at two major events in Cape Town and Johannesburg and is due to receive the Mahatma Gandhi Peace and Reconciliation prize in Durban from the Indian leader`s grand daughter Ela Gandhi.

In Cape Town, preparations were underway to hold a night vigil outside Parliament in protest against the delay in issuing a visa to the Tibetan spiritual leader, allegedly under pressure from its largest trading partner China.

China has resented an official recognition for the Dalai Lama or allowing him high-profile visits to propagate his `splitist` ideology.

The Tibetan leader, who lives in exile in India, was also denied a visa by South Africa in 2009, but has visited the country thrice since its first democratic elections in 1994.

The weekly City Press, citing informed sources, said the Dalai Lama would be told later today that he was unlikely to be granted a visa, prompting further outrage in the country over the issue.