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    After month, Nelson Mandela still hospitalized

    JOHANNESBURG — Former South African president Nelson Mandela has been in a hospital for nearly a month.

    There was no official update Saturday on the condition of Mandela, who is in critical but stable condition after being diagnosed with a recurring lung infection. He was taken to a hospital in Pretoria, the capital, on June 8.

    The government has said Mandela, 94, is not in a vegetative state, contrary to recent court documents. A close friend told Sky News that the antiapartheid leader was conscious and responsive earlier this week.

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    There has been an outpouring of concern in South Africa and around the world for Mandela, a transformative figure who led the tense shift from white rule to democracy two decades ago in a spirit of reconciliation.

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    Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for opposing white minority rule, has been hospitalized four times since December.

    He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for negotiating a peaceful transition to democracy and became the country’s first black president a year later when the African National Congress won the first all-race elections. He stepped down after serving a five-year term.

    The former leader is ‘‘sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes he is in pain, but he is fine,’’ his wife, Graca Machel, said Thursday, according to Johannesburg-based EWN.

    Machel’s own life story — as a trained guerrilla, advocate for children, and the only woman to have served as first lady of two African nations — has become intertwined with that of Mandela.

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    Since they married on his 80th birthday in 1998, Machel, who is now 67, has been his constant companion and an equal advocate of the causes that he champions. Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu said she has brought joy to Mandela and has tried hard to draw his family together.