Former South African President Nelson Mandela is recovering after doctors removed gallstones early today.

"He's undergone a successful procedure," Mac Maharaj, spokesman for President Jacob Zuma, said by phone.

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Mandela, 94, was hospitalized for a series of tests on Dec. 8, which revealed that there was the reccurrence of a lung infection and that he had developed gallstones, the presidency said in a statement. Doctors performed an endoscopy to remove them, it said.

This is the second time Mandela has been hospitalized this year after undergoing exploratory abdominal surgery in February. Last year, Mandela received treatment for an acute respiratory infection.

After spending 27 years in prison under South Africa's white-minority government, Mandela was elected the nation's first black president in 1994. He stepped down in 1999.