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Zuma: Mandela Remains in Critical Condition

  • VOA News

A print of Nelson Mandela and get-well messages hang outside of the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, June 24, 2013.

A print of Nelson Mandela and get-well messages hang outside of the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, June 24, 2013.

South Africa's president says anti-apartheid legend Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition, more than two weeks after he was hospitalized with a lung infection.

At a news conference Monday, President Jacob Zuma called Mr. Mandela "the father of democracy," and said the country should accept that he will have health problems as he ages.

“This is the man who fought and sacrificed his life to stay in prison, the longest-serving prisoner in South Africa. He is one of those who has contributed to democracy ideologically, and therefore is the man we all love,” Zuma said.

Zuma visited Mandela at a Pretoria hospital late Sunday. The president said doctors told him they are doing everything they can to treat the 94-year-old Nobel Peace laureate and make him feel comfortable.

The president said he is not in a position to give more information about Mandela's condition, but he asked South Africans to pray for the former leader.

He also told reporters Monday that Mandela's health will not affect an upcoming visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.

A White House spokesman would not speculate Monday about how Mr. Mandela's health might impact Obama's visit to South Africa. Jay Carney said only that Obama "continues to look forward to the trip" and said the U.S. president sees Mandela as one of his heroes.

"The president, obviously, has long seen Nelson Mandela as one of his personal heroes and I think he is not alone in that -- in this country or around the world. And we all, again, express our thoughts and prayers, or note that our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family at this time," Carney said.

Family members of Mandela continued to visit him in the hospital Monday.

Mandela's daughter Makaziwe told CNN Monday that the family is taking each day as it comes and enjoying as much time as they can with him. She said she believes that her father is at peace.

On Sunday, the South African president's office said the ambulance that took Mr. Mandela to the hospital on June 8 developed engine problems, delaying his arrival at the facility.

The office said Mandela had expert medical care from a team of doctors and specialists traveling with the ambulance convoy, and that "all care was taken to ensure that his medical condition was not compromised."

The president's office also said "there is no truth" to a report that Mandela had suffered cardiac arrest.

The former South African president has been in frail health in recent years. This is his fourth hospitalization for lung problems since December..

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