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Nelson Mandela admitted to hospital with stomach ailment

Nelson Mandela

In this photo supplied by Government Communications and Information Services (GCIS) former South African President Nelson Mandela, is seen after casting his early ballot in upcoming local elections at his home in Johannesburg in this May 16, 2011 file photo. (AP/Elmond Jiyane, GCIS)

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized with a stomach ailment, according to a government statement issued Saturday about the 93-year-old anti-apartheid icon.

Mandela "has had a long-standing abdominal complaint and doctors feel it needs proper specialist medical attention," President Jacob Zuma said, asking that Mandela's privacy be respected.

The statement did not say at which hospital Mandela was being treated.

Mac Maharaj, Zuma's spokesman, said he could not immediately elaborate but that he would be issuing regular updates.

Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison for his fight against racist apartheid rule, and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

He is officially retired and his public appearances have become increasingly rare. He was hospitalized last year for a few days with an acute respiratory infection.

Last year, Mandela took up permanent residence at his home in Qunu, in the southwestern region of South Africa where he was raised. Earlier this year, Mandela came to his Johannesburg home for what Zuma's office said would be a brief stay while maintenance was done at his Qunu home. Zuma's office said then that Mandela was in good health.

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