Friday 20 April 2018

Algeria's ailing president Bouteflika doing 'very well'

Algeria's ailing president Bouteflika doing 'very well'
(AFP 03/10/17)

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has rarely appeared in public since a crippling stroke in 2013, is doing "very well", the country's prime minister said on Thursday.

Speculation has mounted about the veteran president's health since he suffered a bout of bronchitis in February, forcing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to cancel a scheduled visit to Algiers at the last minute.

But asked about it during a visit to Tunis, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said: "He sends you his greetings and is doing very well."

Bouteflika, who turned 80 on March 2, has been in power since 1999.

He was elected to a fourth term in 2014 but attended his inauguration in a wheelchair and was barely able to mumble through a few paragraphs of his speech and his oath of office.

Since then, he has rarely appeared in public, receiving foreign heads of state or government in private at his official residence in Zeralda, west of the capital.

On his visit to Tunis, Sellal met President Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and signed several agreements, including on security cooperation.

Chahed welcomed the deal, saying the countries "face common threats" including terrorism.

"Algeria has extensive experience in the security field and the fight against terrorist groups," he said.

He and Sellal also discussed the situation in their common neighbour Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Libya has become a transit country for jihadist groups, arms traffickers and clandestine migrants heading for Europe.

Sellal said Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria were coordinating their efforts on Libya and had extended their cooperation to include Libya's other neighbours -- Sudan, Chad and Niger.

"There are relations between terrorist groups from the Sahel, which has negative consequences for the Libyan problem," he added.

He said the only solution to the Libyan conflict was a political deal agreed between Libyans themselves.

Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria are working to reboot diplomatic efforts to solve the conflict.

They have emphasised their rejection of "any military solution or foreign interference" in Libya.

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