Former South African President Nelson Mandela was admitted to hospital on Saturday for treatment for a long-standing abdominal complaint, the government said.

A statement said the 93-year-old anti-apartheid leader needed specialist medical treatment. It wished him a speedy recovery, but provided no further details.

Mandela, who is known to be in frail health, spent several days at Johannesburg's Milpark hospital just over a year ago with respiratory problems.

Since then, he has not appeared in public, and he has spent his time between Johannesburg and his ancestral village of Qunu in South Africa's impoverished Eastern Cape.

(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Janet Lawrence)