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Mandela Looking ‘Much Better’ as He Spends Christmas in Hospital

South Africa’s former leader Nelson Mandela is “doing much better” as he spends an 18th day in a Pretoria hospital, President Jacob Zuma said.

Doctors treating Mandela, 94, for a recurring lung infection and gallstones are “happy with the progress he is making,” Zuma said in an e-mailed statement. Mandela was in “good spirits,” said Zuma, who visited the ex-president today.

Mandela became South Africa’s first black president after the African National Congress won all-race elections in 1994 that ended apartheid. He spent 27 years in prison before that for his opposition to white-minority rule. This is the second time he has been hospitalized this year after undergoing abdominal surgery in February.

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