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South Africa says Mandela showing 'great resilience', still critical

A well-wisher takes a picture using a cell phone of a banner with the image of former South African President Nelson Mandela, outside the Me
A well-wisher takes a picture using a cell phone of a banner with the image of former South African President Nelson Mandela, outside the Me

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who has been in hospital since early June with a lung infection, is showing "great resilience" although he remains in a critical but stable condition, the presidency said on Saturday.

"While at times, his condition becomes unstable, the doctors indicate that the former president has demonstrated great resilience and his condition tends to stabilize as a result of medical interventions," it said in its latest update on the condition of the 95-year-old anti-apartheid hero.

"Doctors are still working hard to effect a turnaround and a further improvement in his health and to keep the former president comfortable," the presidency added in the statement.

It was the first update in almost two weeks on the health of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. News of his hospitalization in June with a recurring lung infection attracted worldwide attention for the revered statesman, who is admired as a symbol of struggle against injustice and of racial reconciliation.

Mandela celebrated his 95th birthday in hospital on July 18, showered with tributes from around the world.

He spent nearly three decades in prison before being released and being elected South Africa's first black president in multi-racial elections in 1994 that ended apartheid rule.

Mandela's 27 years in prison under white minority rule included 18 years on the notorious Robben Island penal colony. His lung infection dates back to his time, when he and other prisoners were forced to work in a limestone quarry.

South Africa's current president Jacob Zuma will fly to Malaysia on Saturday on an official visit where he will receive a global peace award on behalf of former president Mandela.

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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