Mandela making steady progress on 2nd day in hospital

Johannesburg, Mar 29 (EFE).- South African former President Nelson Mandela is "in good spirits" and "steadily" recovering from the lung infection that forced him to be hospitalized this week, the office of current head of state Jacob Zuma said Friday.

Mandela, who remains under medical observation and treatment, ate a full breakfast Friday morning, the president's office added.

Zuma's spokesman, Mac Maharaj, meanwhile, issued a renewed call for citizens and the press to respect the 94-year-old erstwhile head of state's privacy.

U.S. President Barack Obama, for his part, sent well wishes to Mandela on Friday, calling his life and career a source of "inspiration."

On Thursday, Zuma called on his countrymen and the world community to pray for the recovery of Madiba, as Mandela - who became South Africa's first black president in 1994 - is affectionately known.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was hospitalized late Wednesday for the fifth time in just over two years.

Mandela, who fought against South Africa's former system of racial segregation for 67 years, suffers from respiratory ailments stemming from his 27-year imprisonment by the apartheid regime.

The "father of the nation" divides his time between Johannesburg and Qunu, the eastern village where he spent his childhood.

His last public appearance was at the closing ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which South Africa hosted.