S. Africa's president says he hopes Mandela will be released from hospital soon

  • Updated: June 29, 2013 - 6:55 AM

PRETORIA, South Africa — 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.

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