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Mandela critical but responding to treatment, Zuma says

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Nelson Mandela endured 27 years in prison before becoming South Africa's first president from 1994 to 1999. Nelson Mandela endured 27 years in prison before becoming South Africa's first president from 1994 to 1999.

(CNN) -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela still is in critical but stable condition, but is responding to treatment, President Jacob Zuma's office said Wednesday, citing Mandela's doctors.

Mandela, 94, considered the founding father of South Africa's modern democracy, has been hospitalized in Pretoria since June 8 for a recurring lung infection -- a legacy of his years of imprisonment under South Africa's now-defunct apartheid regime.

Nelson Mandela: Fast Facts

Zuma's office released its statement after he visited Mandela on Wednesday evening.

"We are encouraged that Madiba is responding to treatment and urge the public to continue providing support and showering him with love, which gives him and the family strength," Zuma said.

Madiba is the revered statesman's clan name.

Why Nelson Madela has six names

Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the South Africa's system of racial segregation. He emerged from prison in 1990 and became the nation's first black president four years later.

A court document released last week revealed that Mandela's health had declined so sharply on June 26 that his family was considering whether to take him off life support. The following day, however, Zuma announced that Mandela's condition improved from critical to critical but stable.

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