Algiers - Algeria's prime minister, reacting to reports that
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seriously ill, said the 76-year-old was
recovering in France but has been ordered to take complete rest by his doctors.
Since he was rushed to hospital in Paris on April 27 with
what was officially described as a minor stroke, Bouteflika has been neither
heard nor seen in public, raising widespread speculation that he is seriously
France's Le Point magazine said Bouteflika, who was treated
for cancer in 2005, was in very poor health, with some of his vital functions
damaged. Algerian newspaper editor Hichem Aboud said he was in a deep coma and
had been brought back to Algeria.
Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that after being
treated at the Val-de-Grace military hospital in Paris, Bouteflika was
convalescing in France and continued to follow the affairs of state on a daily
"The president, whose survival has never been questioned
and whose health is improving every day, has been required by his doctors to
take complete rest in order to make a full recovery," the Algerian Press
Service quoted Sellal as saying.
He said that false reports by some foreign media on
Bouteflika threatened Algeria's development and security.
"The illness of President Bouteflika will soon be no
more than a bad memory," he said.
Algeria is due to hold a presidential election in April 2014
and were Bouteflika to disappear from the political scene before that,
authorities would have to scramble to find an alternative candidate and the
constitutional means of running the country until then.
Algeria has been run with Soviet-style secrecy for decades
by an elite drawn largely from men who fought in the war of independence
against France from 1954 to 1962.
Bouteflika, who first became president in 1999, is among the
last of that generation, who retain a tradition of secrecy dating back to their
fear of betrayal during their time as insurgents.