Updated at: 06/26/2013 10:35 AM
By NEDRA PICKLER
(AP) WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is heading to Africa, and the health of former South African leader Nelson Mandela is hanging over the planned weeklong visit.
The first family departed Wednesday for Senegal. Other stops are scheduled for South Africa and Tanzania.
Obama has visited sub-Saharan Africa once before as president, and that was a brief stop in Ghana in 2009.
Mandela is hospitalized in South Africa and surrounded by family. White House advisers say they will defer to the anti-apartheid leader’s relatives on whether he’s up for a visit from Obama.
Missing from Obama’s itinerary is Kenya, his father’s birthplace and home to many of his relatives. Kenya’s new president is facing war crimes charges, making it an awkward time for a U.S. president to visit.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)