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Barack Obama: Mandela a 'hero for the world'

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS: Barack Obama hails Nelson Mandela (PA)

AMERICAN PRESIDENT Barack Obama has spoken of his admiration for critically ill Nelson Mandela.

Speaking in Senegal, the first country he is visiting for his African tour, Obama said: “Our thoughts and prayers right now are with the people of South Africa and more specifically the Mandela family.”

The former Illinois senator said in the next few days he would be South Africa after concluding his time in Senegal.

Sharing his personal thoughts on South Africa’s first black president, he added: “I’ve had the privilege of meeting Madiba, and speaking to him.

“He is a personal hero, but I don’t think I’m unique in that regard.

“He is a hero for the world.

“If and when he passes from this place, one thing I think we’ll all know is that his legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages."

Mandela remains in a Pretoria hospital, and, according to family members, is in a stable but critical condition.

A member of Mandela’s clan said he relying on a life-support machine to breathe.

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