Mandela is improving, says South Africa's president
NELSON Mandela is "responding better" to treatment, the South African president has said, after a five-day hospital stay for a recurring lung infection.
Mr Mandela (94) is understood to be conscious and able to recognise and greet his wife, Graca, and other members of his large family.
"We are very happy with the progress he is making, following a difficult last few days," President Jacob Zuma told parliament.
His announcement, after a series of updates in which Mr Mandela's condition was described only as "serious but stable", was greeted by cheers from MPs.
There has been growing concern among South Africans in the past few days that he may be close to death.
Newspaper editorials have carried headlines such as 'After Madiba' (Mandela's clan name).
Mbuso Mandela, one of the Nobel Peace laureate's grandsons, said the family was "hoping for the best".
"It has been quite intense but we've pulled through and we are still united as a family, that's what's important," he said.
He stressed that no one in the family was yet celebrating, as the situation could still change.
The news of Mr Mandela's improvement came 49 years to the day that he was sentenced to life in prison for sabotage.
Mr Zuma told MPs: "Because of their sacrifices and the foundation that was laid for a free and democratic South Africa, our country is a much better place to live in now than it was before 1994 – even though we still have so much work to do." (© Daily Telegraph, London)