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Zuma: Mandela Remains in Critical Condition


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 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 said. "He is one of those who has contributed to democracy ideologically, and therefore is the man we all love.”

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

The president said he was not in a position to give more information about Mandela's condition, and 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.

On Sunday, the South African president's office said the ambulance that took 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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