Algeria: President Bouteflika’s health increases pre-election speculation


The continuing health problems of the Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, have increased speculation on the identity of his successor. Algeria goes to the polls to vote for a new president in a year.

President Bouteflika, now in his mid-seventies, suffered a “transient ischaemia” on April 27th – a type of mini-stroke. He has been being treated in hospital in France.

The president’s ill-health comes amid a backdrop of allegations of corruption against members of his family in Algeria.

A spokesman for the government played down fears of serious illness, telling AFP: “Everything is going very well for the president. I haven’t spoken with him directly today but I have spoken with his entourage.”

The mini-stroke is the latest incident of ill health for President Bouteflika, with leaked US cables in 2007 even suggesting he may have terminal cancer.  The media are now suggesting that, with less than a year until the presidential election, a successor will emerge rather than Bouteflika continuing for a fourth term.

Algerian newspaper Quotidien d’Oran said Bouteflika’s heath situation meant “the need to question his ability to lead the country” was “undeniable”, before calling for him to retire from office “in a serene and democratic manner.”

Bouteflika is currently serving his third term, which was made possible after a constitutional amendment was made,  allowing him to serve more than the previous maximum of two terms in office.

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