Nelson Mandela to spend Christmas Day in hospital

A sculpture of former South African President Nelson Mandela, is presented on August 4, 2012 in Howick, 90 kms South of Durban, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Mandela's capture by the apartheid police.

Nelson Mandela will spend Christmas Day in hospital, Agence France-Presse reported today, citing a statement from the South African government.

"Former president Nelson Mandela will spend Christmas Day in hospital, his doctors have confirmed today, on 24 December 2012," the statement said.

The 94-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate and South Africa's first black post-apartheid president was admitted to hospital in Pretoria on December 8. He has been treated for a lung infection and gallstones.

The BBC reported that there is growing anxiety in South Africa about the ailing icon's health. The AFP said this is Mandela's longest hospital stay since he was released from prison in 1990 after 27 years behind bars. 

"He is regarded by most South Africans as the father of the nation, having inspired them to fight for democracy," the BBC reported. 

South African President Jacob Zuma urged people to "keep the former leader in their thoughts on Christmas Day and throughout the holiday season," the Associated Press reported. 

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