South Africa's presidency says Nelson Mandela has undergone successful surgery to remove gallstones.

Nelson Mandela (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The presidency said the 94-year-old Mandela underwent the surgery Saturday. The presidency said Mandela's doctors wanted to treat a recurrent lung infection before putting him through the surgery.

The statement said: "The procedure was successful and Madiba is recovering." It referred to Mandela by his clan name as a sign of affection.

Mandela has been hospitalized since Dec. 8.

Mandela is revered for being a leader of the struggle against racist white rule in South Africa. He served one five-year term as president before retiring from public life.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press