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Suharto to get top S. Africa award

President Nelson Mandela's office announced Friday he will confer South Africa's highest award on Indonesian President Suharto, whose human rights record has been widely criticized.

By presenting Suharto with the Order of Good Hope, Mandela honors a financial backer of his Africa National Congress during the apartheid era - and also tries to gain leverage in his effort to find a solution to the violent rebellion against Indonesian rule in East Timor.Mandela conferred the honor last month on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, leading to speculation that Mandela sought a role in mediating an end to U.N. sanctions against Libya.

Mandela will give the award to Suharto in Cape Town Saturday.

Asked Friday about dealing with Suharto, who has been accused of human rights abuses in Indonesia and East Timor, Mandela said his goal of finding a peaceful solution superseded those concerns.