With 24 hours left until a crucial referendum that entrenches his powers, Algeria’s president COVID-19 treatment in Germany has been confirmed by an unlikely source.
Rabat – Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is infected with COVID-19. Algeria’s leader was flown to Germany on Wednesday without any confirmation of his medical condition. He spent three days in quarantine after COVID-19 was detected among the presidential staff. After days of speculation Algerian outlets have confirmed the president’s positive COVID-19 test.
With only one day left until Algeria’s constitutional referendum is set to take place, Tebboune is in “stable” condition while receiving COVID-19 treatment in Bonn, western Germany. But the President’s office has continued to obfuscate the reasons for Tebboune’s initial admission to Ain Naadja military hospital in Algiers on Tuesday.
The presidential staff’s silence on Tebboune’s admission to the military hospital to receive care in a specialized care unit sparked widespread speculation. Initially, Tebboune’s office had announced the president’s medical condition was “no concern” and that he would be able to perform his presidential duties as he received care.
But these feeble reassurances did not discourage speculation over Tebboune’s possible COVID-19 infection on various social media platforms in Algeria. His possible infection was deemed even more likely after he was suddenly flown to Germany on Thursday. Even so, Algeria’s presidential office made no mention of COVID-19. It continued to state that Tebboune was in stable condition following “in-depth medical examinations.”
Well wishes provide confirmation
As the vague statements emanating from Tebboune’s office failed to convince, speculation about his possible COVID-19 infection was confirmed on Saturday. The news came to light not through leaks or an official statement, but was instead unintentionally confirmed by Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
ولي العهد يبعث برقية للرئيس الجزائري للاطمئنان على صحته إثر إصابته بفيروس كورونا المستجد pic.twitter.com/xcLBbtpaiB— وزارة الخارجية 🇸🇦 (@KSAMOFA) October 30, 2020
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accidentally confirmed Tebboune’s COVID-19 status in a tweet announcing that the Saudi crown prince had sent Algeria’s president a telegram. The tweet announced that MBS sent the message to check on Tebboune’s health “following his infection with the new Coronavirus.”
Press in Algeria continue to disagree over whether Tebboune is receiving his treatment for COVID-19 in either Bonn or Cologne in Germany. The president’s age and his smoking habit mean he is in the high-risk category for COVID-19. Algerians had earlier speculated that Tebboune was not in Algeria but instead was receiving COVID-19 treatment in the US.
There is never a good time to catch a dangerous virus. Yet the timing of Tebboune’s COVID-19 diagnosis ahead of Algeria’s upcoming referendum comes at a bad time for the president. Ahead of a constitutional referendum that could consolidate Tebboune’s grip over Algeria, his COVID-19 diagnosis and the obfuscation by his office will lose him some points.
The Algerian government has for months argued that the country’s new constitution would usher in a “new Algeria” in direct response to the 2019 Hirak (movement) protests. After being widely criticized for the opaque process it has relied on to pass its “new Algeria” reforms, the government pledged to develop and amend the proposed constitution. But the final draft, which was recently made public, is not remotely close to the liberal and “democratic reforms” Tebboune lavishly promised.
Analysis by Morocco World News has shown that the new document does little to address the grievances of the 2019 protest movement. Instead, it aims to legitimize state repression and legalize authorities’ routine assault on dissent and press freedom. While state corruption is set to thrive under the new constitution, rights of minorities and women will likely see little improvement.