Algeria's Bouteflika in rehab

2013-06-11 20:48
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika at the People's Palace in the capital. (Farouk Batiche, AFP)

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika at the People's Palace in the capital. (Farouk Batiche, AFP)

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Algiers - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was flown to France 46 days ago after suffering a mini-stroke, is undergoing a period of "functional" rehabilitation in a Paris hospital, his doctors said on Tuesday.

A health bulletin signed by his doctors and published by the national APS news agency said initial tests carried out showed the transient ischaemic attack Bouteflika suffered on 27 April had "not affected his vital functions".

They said his transfer to the Val de Grace military hospital in Paris was for "further tests, after which his doctors recommended that he observe a period of convalescence and functional rehabilitation to consolidate his recovery at the Institution Nationale des Invalides," also in the French capital.

Regular official assurances that Bouteflika's condition is improving have failed to convince many Algerians, with widespread speculation in the local and French media that his health may have deteriorated.

Tuesday's announcement comes just a day after Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci insisted the president remained actively involved in the daily running of the country.

And on Sunday, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal called on the media to stop endlessly focusing on Bouteflika's health, saying "we have nothing to hide".

Calls have grown in the Algerian press to apply Article 88 of the constitution, which provides for the transfer of power if the head of state falls seriously ill.

Bouteflika came to power in 1999, and was re-elected in 2004 and again in 2009, after changes to the constitution allowed him to run for more than two terms.

Before his latest hospitalisation, and despite his age and already frail health, many supporters were calling for Algeria's 76-year-old leader to seek a fourth term in next year's presidential election.

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