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Nelson Mandela back in the hospital with lung infection

9:18 AM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
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Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized with a recurrent lung infection. (Photo: Leon Neal AFP, Getty Images)

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is back in the hospital due to a recurrence of a lung infection, the South African government said on Thursday morning.

"We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family and to keep them in their thoughts," said South African President Jacob Zuma, in a statement. "We have full confidence in the medical team and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery."

Zuma said that the anti-apartheid leader was admitted to the hospital just before midnight and that he was receiving "the best possible expert medical treatment and comfort."

Mac Maharaj, a presidential spokesman, told USA TODAY on Thursday that Mandela, 94, is conscious and "aware." He said that Mandela's hospitalization was an indication of his doctors' concern but that given Mandela's age and history they were acting with caution.

Under South Africa's white-minority apartheid regime, Mandela served 27 years in prison, where he contracted tuberculosis, before being released in 1990. He later became the nation's first democratically elected president in 1994 under the banner of the African National Congress. He served one five-year term before retiring.

Mandela has become increasingly frail recently and has been in and out of the hospital. He spent three weeks in the hospital in December for a lung infection. In early March, he was admitted to the hospital for a single night for a check-up.

President Zuma wished Mandela, who last made a major public appearance during the 2010 World Cup, a speedy recovery.

Contributing: Associated Press

Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY

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