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The Journal Gazette

  • A well wisher holds posters of former South African President Nelson Mandela at the entrance to the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, June 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Saturday, June 29, 2013 7:52 am

S. African leader hopes Mandela can leave hospital

The Associated Press

South Africa's president says the nation continues to pray for Nelson Mandela's health as the 94-year-old beloved leader remains in critical but stable condition.

President Jacob Zuma said Saturday: "We hope very soon he will be out of hospital."

During a press conference with visiting President Barack Obama, Zuma called Mandela the "founding president of our democracy who is much loved by our people and the world."

Mandela was admitted to a Pretoria hospital three weeks ago with a recurring lung infection.

Obama plans to visit privately Saturday with Mandela's relatives, but doesn't intend to see the man he has called a "personal hero."

Mandela became South Africa's first democratically elected president in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison for his fight against racist white rule.