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      Mandela's Condition Improves, Says Ex-Wife

      Former South African President Nelson Mandela is showing “great improvement,” according to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
      By Elad Benari, Canada
      First Publish: 6/29/2013, 12:23 AM

      Nelson Mandela
      Nelson Mandela
      Reuters

      Former South African President Nelson Mandela is showing “great improvement,” his ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said on Friday.

      Madikizela-Mandela made the comments in a conversation with reporters outside Mandela's former home in the Johannesburg township of Soweto.

      “I'm not a doctor but I can say that from what he was a few days ago there is great improvement,” she said. 

      Mandela was taken to the hospital on June 8 to be treated for what the government said was a recurring lung infection. South Africans have held prayers nationwide, and many have left flowers and messages of support outside the hospital as well as his home in Johannesburg.

      Earlier this week it was reported that Mandela was on life support, and South African president Jacob Zuma canceled a trip amid worry about the former President’s health.

      On Thursday, Zuma’s office said Mandela's health had improved overnight, and that his condition was critical but stable.

      In 1993, Mandela and then-South African President F.W. de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize.

      The iconic leader was elected the nation's first black president a year later, serving only one term, as he had promised.

      Even as he has faded from the spotlight, he remains popular and is considered a hero of democracy in the nation. Last year, South Africa launched a new batch of banknotes with a picture of a smiling Mandela on the front.

      Mandela's impact extends far beyond South African borders. After he left office, he mediated conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.

      He has in the past criticized the U.S. through Israel, hinting in 2003 that then- President George W. Bush had no foresight because “Their friend Israel has got weapons of mass destruction, but because it’s their ally they won’t ask the U.N. to get rid of it. They just want the oil.”

      Mandela also said once that “if the Palestinians are not free, no one is free”, a statement which anti-Israel groups have taken advantage of to accuse Israel of applying a policy of “apartheid” towards Arabs.

      (Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)