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ANC appeals for calm as doctors examine Mandela

Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, remained in hospital yesterday for medical tests, reviving concern over the health of the frail 92-year-old anti-apartheid activist.

Mr Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital on Wednesday for what his foundation described as routine tests, but South African station Talk Radio 702 reported that he had been seen by a specialist pulmonologist, who treats respiratory problems.

President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) appealed for calm after the hospitalisation set off speculation about Mr Mandela's health. "President Mandela is comfortable and is well looked after by a good team of medical specialists," Mr Zuma said in a statement.

"He is a 92-year-old and will have ailments associated with his age, and the fact that he stayed the night should not suggest the worst," added ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu.

Police were called in to control traffic at Milpark Hospital as scores of journalists, photographers and television crews converged on it. Several members of Mr Mandela's family, including his wife Graça Machel, visited the hospital after his admission.

Mr Mandela retired from public life in June 2004 before his 86th birthday and has not been seen in public since the World Cup final in July last year. He was treated in the 1980s for tuberculosis and later had an eye operation. In 2001 he was treated for prostate cancer. Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said he had met Mr Mandela last week. "He was all right, I mean, he's 92, you know. And he's frail," he said.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation declined to comment on his health yesterday, but in an earlier statement said: "He is in no danger and is in good spirits."