Fate of ex-Algerian leader unclear

2012-02-23 16:33

Algiers - The fate of Algeria's first president Ahmed Ben Bella was unclear Thursday, with one newspaper reporting the aged former independence fighter to be "clinically dead".

In its early online addition on Thursday, the daily El Watan said Ben Bella had died, before updating the story to say there was total confusion over the 96-year-old's condition.

"This morning, one of his nephews ... confirmed the death of the former president, telling our correspondent 'He is clinically dead,'" the newspaper wrote.

But Algerian news agency APS and public radio said Ben Bella was in stable condition at a military hospital.

"News of his death is false," APS said. "Ben Bella is still alive and under medical observation at the hospital after having been taken there overnight."

Citing sources close to the hospital management, French-language newspaper Liberte said Ben Bella was "still hospitalised in critical condition".

There was no official information immediately available on Ben Bella's health.

Ben Bella became the first president of Algeria after its independence in 1962. He was overthrown in 1965.