(AFP) ? South Africa?s last apartheid president F.W. de Klerk was hospitalised on Tuesday to receive a pacemaker, as his fellow Nobel peace laureate Nelson Mandela lies critically ill.

De Klerk cut short a visit to Europe over the weekend because of Mandela?s ailing health, only to fall ill himself. The 77-year-old felt dizzy after his return from Europe on Sunday and saw his physician.

?The specialist recommended immediate installation of a pacemaker,? his spokesman Dave Steward told AFP.

?It?s a routine procedure. He will spend the night in hospital.?

De Klerk will receive the device, which helps the heart beat at a normal rate, in a Cape Town hospital.

Meanwhile, 94-year-old Mandela is spending a 25th day of treatment in a Pretoria health facility for a recurring lung infection.

He is in a critical but stable condition, the South African president?s office said Monday evening.

De Klerk ? a one-time hard-liner ? dismantled white-minority rule and authorised the release of Mandela from prison in 1990, a decision that changed the course of South African history.

Sometimes heated talks between the two and their factions in the end brought about the first all-race elections in 1994 which propelled Mandela to power.

The two men shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

At a prayer meeting in downtown Johannesburg on Tuesday, organised by the ruling African National Congress, hundreds of supporters gathered to wish Mandela well.

?Growing old is not a curse ? it?s a blessing,? ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told the crowd outside the organisation?s headquarters, which was adorned with a huge poster of Mandela.

?We are not tired of having our old icon. We still want him to live for a long time,? Mantashe told the cheering crowd.

ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete added: ?We hope that you come out of that hospital. We still want to learn from your example.?


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