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Mandela improving, official says

JOHANNESBURG — Former president Nelson Mandela began responding better to treatment Wednesday morning for a recurring lung infection following ‘‘a difficult last few days,’’ South Africa’s president said.

President Jacob Zuma told Parliament he is happy with the progress that the 94-year-old is making following his hospitalization on Saturday.

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Mandela spent a fifth straight day Wednesday in a Pretoria hospital, where he was visited by a daughter and two granddaughters.

Zuma noted that Wednesday marked the 49th anniversary of the sentencing of Mandela to life in prison in 1964. He said ‘‘our thoughts’’ are with Mandela and his family ‘‘on this crucial historical anniversary.’’

Zuma applauded the legacy of Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists. South Africa’s government disbanded its official policy of apartheid — racial segregation and discrimination — in 1994.

‘‘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,’’ Zuma said.

This is Mandela’s fourth hospitalization since December.

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