Nelson Mandela update: South African leader still in critical condition, Obama meeting unlikely

By CAROLINE LEE, UPI.com   |   June 26, 2013 at 8:05 AM   |   Comments

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June 26 (UPI) -- Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition this morning. Wednesday is the fourth consecutive day Mandela, 94, has been in critical condition at the Pretoria hospital where he is being treated.

Yesterday, the archbishop of Cape Town visited Mandela and his family to pray for a "peaceful, perfect end." A South African newspaper reads "The Final Struggle" with his photo on the front page as the country prepares to say goodbye.

Mandela has suffered from a lung ailment he contracted on Robben Island, an apartheid-era prison where he was held for nearly 27 years until his release in 1990. He was hospitalized June 8, his fourth hospitalization since late last year.

A meeting between Mandela and President Obama was scheduled for Friday, but is unlikely as Mandela's health continues to decline.

“President Obama would have loved to see President Mandela, but he is indisposed,” Maite Nkoane Mashebane, South Africa’s minister of international relations, said.

Mandela's close family gathered Tuesday in his home Qunu after the anti-apartheid leader spent his third night in critical condition. There, they reportedly "discuss[ed] delicate matters," which is widely assumed to mean his death arrangements. He is expected to buried in or near Qunu, where his family has a private graveyard.

Crowds gathered outside the hospital Tuesday, singing songs including church hymns with the word "God" replaced with "Mandela." The security wall is now covered with get-well cards, flowers and balloons.

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