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Mandela in hospital again


Nelson Mandela, the beloved former president of South Africa, spent a second night in hospital where he has been described as being in a serious but stable condition.

Report by Financial Times

Mr Mandela, who will turn 95 next month, was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria, the South African capital, in the early hours of Saturday suffering from a recurrence of a lung infection.

The government said on Saturday that he was taken to hospital after his condition had deteriorated and that he remained “in a serious but stable condition.”

There were no updates on his condition on Sunday, and Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for Jacob Zuma, the president, told the Financial Times that “we have to assume the situation is unchanged.”

Concerns about Mr Mandela’s health have mounted as he has become increasingly frail and the number and duration of his admissions to hospital have increased. This year, he has been admitted to hospital three times, most recently for a 10-day period in March also for a lung infection.

Mr Mandela, a former liberation fighter who became South Africa’s first black president, also spent nearly three weeks in hospital in December after being treated for a lung infection and gallstones.

The elder statesman’s history of lung problems dates back to 1988 when he suffered from tuberculosis during the 27 years he spent in prison under the apartheid regime.

After his release from prison in February 1990, Mr Mandela steered the African National Congress, the liberation movement, to an overwhelming victory at the first democratic election in 1994. The Nobel Peace Prize winner spent the next five years focusing much of his efforts on reconciling his divided nation, reassuring whites and blacks, and helping South Africa avoid the bloodshed many had predicted.

He stepped down as president in 1999 after serving one term – a rare act among Africa’s long list of liberation leaders who took over their countries – and was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki.

Mr Mandela officially retired from public life in 2004 and has not been involved in day-to-day politics for years. South Africans, who revere him, have gradually been coming to terms with his mortality as his health has deteriorated.

In April, Mr Mandela was shown briefly on a broadcast by SABC, the state broadcaster, with Mr Zuma and other senior ANC officials at his home in Johannesburg. The ANC said the footage was designed so assuage concerns about the former president’s health, but Mr Mandela appeared incredibly frail as he stared vacantly into the distance, seemingly unaware of the commotion around him.

Graca Machel, Mr Mandela’s third wife, cancelled her attendance at a summit in London last week to be at her husband’s bedside.

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