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Nelson Mandela "not yet fully recovered": spokesman

Former South African president Nelson Mandela looks on as he celebrates his birthday at his house in Qunu, Eastern Cape July 18, 2012. REUTE
Former South African president Nelson Mandela looks on as he celebrates his birthday at his house in Qunu, Eastern Cape July 18, 2012. REUTE

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Former South African President Nelson Mandela is doing well after being discharged from hospital, although he is still not fully recovered, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

"He is not yet fully recovered, but he has sufficiently moved forward so that he can be discharged," Mac Maharaj told local broadcaster eNCA.

"He is sufficiently well to be home."

The 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday, ending a nearly three-week stay during which he was treated for a lung infection and had surgery to remove gallstones.

Mandela, who has been in frail health for several years, is now receiving care at his suburban Johannesburg home.

Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis while in jail as a political prisoner. He spent 27 years in prison, including 18 years on the windswept Robben Island off Cape Town.

The former president was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on December 8 and this was his longest stay in a hospital since he was released from prison in 1990.

Current President Jacob Zuma visited Mandela on Christmas Day and said the former South African leader was doing much better, making progress and in good spirits.

Mandela was also admitted to a hospital in February because of abdominal pain but released the following day after a keyhole examination showed there was nothing seriously wrong with him.

He has spent most of his time since then in another home in Qunu, his ancestral village in the impoverished Eastern Cape province.

(Reporting by David Dolan; editing by Todd Eastham)

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