Nelson Mandela’s condition remains “critical but stable”, South African President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday, hoping the anti-apartheid icon would leave hospital soon, as US President Barack Obama visits the country.
“These are very excellent doctors who are dealing with him,” Zuma said in a joint press conference with Obama.
“We hope that very soon he will be out of hospital,” he added. Zuma called Mandela the “founding president of our democracy who is much loved by our people and the world”.
Obama, here on an official visit, plans to meet Mandela’s relatives privately, but does not intend to see the man he has called a “personal hero”. Obama decided not to visit his hero in hospital to preserve the “peace and comfort” of the legendary leader.
Mandela, who turns 95 on July 18, has been admitted to a hospital here since June 8 with a recurring lung infection.
“The triumph of Nelson Mandela and this nation speaks to something very deep in the human spirit,” Obama said after talks with Zuma. Zuma said Obama and Mandela were “bound by history” as the first black leaders of their respective nations.
Obama had earlier said that Mandela’s 27 years in prison and his long struggle against apartheid was a source of “personal inspiration” to him.