Algeria is experiencing a “great upheaval” as President Tebboune shows little sign of recovery.
Agadir – Back in October, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune contracted COVID-19, and since then his health has been slow to recover. President Tebboune flew to Germany for treatment, leaving Algeria like a “ship without a captain.”
The long-absent President returned from Germany on December 29, making his first public appearance in over two months. But not even two weeks later, Algerian newspaper El Khabar, citing a source it described as reliable, has revealed that Tebboune will soon return to Germany to undergo “a minor surgery.”
While President Tebboune was recovering in Germany, the country faced an intense crisis of leadership.
In November of last year, Algerian newspaper Liberte Algerie described the country’s economic and health crises as “the great upheaval.” The series of crises have left citizens feeling stressed, anxious, with no economic prospects. And adding insult to injury has been a steep rise in domestic violence, according to the Algerian daily.
Worse still, a number of Algerian commentators have fumed, the president’s troubles started only a few days before the country’s national referendum to approve a new constitution.
For many, the events may bring back painful memories of leadership crises during former President Bouteflika’s final years as President. Bouteflika’s final term in office was marred in absence and health complications, leaving Algerians and international observers wondering whether the president was really in command.
Algeria’s presidency enjoys a far-reaching authority over other branches of government, controlling much of the state apparatus. During Tebboune’s recovery, the president’s cohort was in charge of the presidential El Mouradia Palace.
Upon his return in late December, Tebboune made a short speech for the public, dispelling rumours surrounding his health condition. “It is difficult to be away from your home country, especially for those with responsibility,” he told the press at the time.
The crisis has essentially ground to a halt development, construction projects, and much of commercial activities in Algeria. As a result, the country’s economic difficulties have led to the growth of the black market, which is estimated to be worth $60 billion (MAD 530 billion).
Tebboune has been facing the daunting task of leadership under crisis, and if he were to really return to Germany for further care, it is sure to result in even lower trust in the government. While many Algerians have been hoping for a fresh start in 2021, some see clear signs of a turbulent road ahead.