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Mandela 'reacting to family's touch'

Nelson Mandela's health improved yesterday and although his condition remains critical it is now said to be stable.

One of the former president's daughters said last night he was still opening his eyes and reacting to the touch of his family.

The report that the health of the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader had taken a turn for the better came amid a growing sense in South Africa that Mr Mandela was approaching the end of his life.

President Jacob Zuma's office said in a statement that he received the encouraging update from the medical team.

Mr Zuma had cancelled an international trip, instead visiting Mr Mandela for the second time in two days.

"I cancelled my visit to Mozambique today so that I can see him and confer with the doctors," Mr Zuma said in the statement. "He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night."

Mr Mandela was taken to a hospital on June 8 for a recurring lung infection.

The president's office said it was disturbed by what it called rumours about Mr Mandela's health and appealed for privacy for the former leader.

Makaziwe Mandela, one of Mandela's daughters, said media coverage of her father's illness had become intrusive.

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