By Said Temsamani
By Said Temsamani
Morocco World News
Washington, May 4, 2013
On April 27, Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was hospitalized after having a mini-stroke without serious complications, the Algerian news agency reported. The Algerian president had a brief blockage of a blood vessel, a transient ischemic attack, around noon, Rachid Bougherbal, the director of the national center of sports medicine, told the state news agency.
“His excellency the president of the republic must observe a period of rest for further examinations,” he said. “There was no reason for worry.”
Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said the president had been hospitalized, “but the situation is not serious.”
Mr. Bouteflika, 76, has ruled Algeria since 1999. He has long been believed to have been in poor health and rarely appears in public. The state news agency rarely carries any reports on the his health. Recently there has been speculation that the ailing president would run for a fourth term in the next presidential election, which is a year away, despite promises to step down. In Algeria, power is delicately shared between civilian politicians and the powerful military.
“The very idea that this news is made public is in itself a media shock,” wrote the francophone daily Liberte. “This time the presidency has judged the incident to be serious enough not to hide it from the Algerian people.”
Elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2004 and 2009 thanks to a constitutional change ending term limits, Bouteflika had had a health scare in 2005 when he had surgery in Paris for a bleeding stomach ulcer and spent three weeks in Val de Grace. That hospital stay was shrouded in secrecy, with the lack of official information fueling fears his condition may be more serious than admitted.
In early 2006, Bouteflika spent a week undergoing post-operative medical exams at the same hospital, which has also treated former French presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac. Several months later he disappeared from public view for 50 days, again feeding the rumor mill. Then a year after his surgery, he said he had been “very, very sick” but had “come out absolutely fabulous”, emphasizing that “people need to stop talking about my health.”
On Sunday, the daily El Watan reported that although Bouteflika’s mini-stroke “dates officially from 12:30 pm yesterday, some sources have confided that the president suffered the attack about a week ago.” It said the announcement that he was in hospital “above all confirms what all Algerians suspect — the president is indeed sick and his health is a visible obstacle to his exercising power.”
The French-language Le soir d’Algerie was even blunter in its assessment. “Is Bouteflika still able to fulfil his functions until the end of his current mandate?” it asked. “And even more, is it still conceivable that his mandate will be renewed for a fourth term?”
A veteran of Algeria’s war for independence from France, Bouteflika later helped end a decade-long civil war that killed at least 150,000 people, and is credited abroad for restoring stability. But he has been condemned by rights groups and opponents for being authoritarian, despite launching political reforms in April 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring unrest that toppled other long-standing regional rulers.
Bouteflika’s health “is an obstacle to the exercise of power in a country as difficult as Algeria,” notes the newspaper El Watan. Presidential Stroke “is a setback for those who were warming up to face the fourth term” presidential, he adds. The journalist LOUNIS Guemache believes, however, that “if your state does not worsen, the president will go ahead with its plans, is preparing to perform a fourth term.”
An editorial in Le Quotidien d’Oran, a journal rather favorable to Bouteflika, expressed desire that the president’s successor is not imposed from above but “respects the sovereignty of the people they are should be allowed to democratically.”
“Some are already calls for the removal of Bouteflika, but his early departure would pose serious problems,” says LOUNIS Guemache. “His succession has not been prepared in the highest,” he adds. “No potential candidate or any personality emerges enjoys sufficient consensus”. “Hence the appointment of a new president is very complicated,” he concluded.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius refused to comment on Bouteflika’s health, saying only he wished a prompt recovery for the man “who, as president of Algeria, is a friend of France.” King Mohammed VI has sent a message to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika over the transient ischemia he suffered Saturday. The king expressed to the Algerian president his sympathy and his concern, wishing him speedy recovery to restore his health so he can continue his wise leadership of the Algerian people on the path of progress and prosperity.
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