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Obama rules out Mandela 'photo op'

Source BBC News@

Flags unfurled outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on 28 June 2013Many images of Nelson Mandela now adorn the walls and gates of the Pretoria hospital where the former president is being treated

Well-wishers are continuing to gather outside the hospital in Pretoria where former President Nelson Mandela remains in a critical condition.

They have been singing and saying prayers both outside the hospital and at his former home in Soweto.

People are anxious about his health but also want to express pride in the man many consider the father of the nation, the BBC's Karen Allen reports.

South Africa's first black president is suffering from a lung infection.

The 94-year-old icon of the anti-apartheid struggle has now spent 20 days in hospital.

President Jacob Zuma - who cancelled a visit to Mozambique on Thursday to visit Mr Mandela in hospital - said his condition had improved, but still remained critical.

Nelson Mandela: Key dates

Nelson Mandela in June 2010

  • 1918 Born in the Eastern Cape

  • 1944 Joins African National Congress

  • 1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped

  • 1962 Arrested, convicted of sabotage, sentenced to five years in prison

  • 1964 Charged again, sentenced to life

  • 1990 Freed from prison

  • 1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize

  • 1994 Elected first black president

  • 1999 Steps down as leader

Mr Mandela's daughter Makaziwe admitted on Wednesday night after seeing him that "he doesn't look good... but... if we speak to him, he responds and tries to open his eyes".

She was also highly critical of the behaviour of the international media, accusing some of behaving like vultures with their "overboard" coverage.

Mixed emotions

Messages of support and thanks posted to the hospital railings and walls have swollen as the days have gone, our correspondent reports from outside the hospital.

Many contain images that capture the life of Nelson Mandela, known by his clan name Madiba.

People sang and danced in tribute during an all-night prayer vigil outside his former home in Soweto.

Children released 94 balloons - one for every year of the ex-president's life - into the air in his honour.

There are mixed emotions among the well-wishers, our correspondent says. People are sad and anxious but at the same time feel deeply proud of him and his achievements.

Speaking on SABC, Makaziwe, Nelson Mandela's daughter accused some journalists of racism, describing them as "vultures"

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has said it will hold vigils each day that the former leader remains in hospital.

US President Barack Obama, who is due to fly to South Africa later on Friday, described Mr Mandela as "a hero for the world".

"His legacy will linger on through the ages," he said, while on a visit to Senegal on Thursday.

Meanwhile media reports say the bodies of three of Mr Mandela's children are to be moved from his birthplace to his home in Qunu, where he himself has said he wants to be buried.

They include his son Makgatho, who died of an Aids-related illness in 2005.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

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