Algerians ask where their 'missing' president is

Algerians have taken to social media to ask where their president is, a month after he was taken to Germany to receive coronavirus treatment.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who turned 75 last week, was flown from a military hospital in Algeria to Europe in a special medical plane on 28 October, with his diagnosis kept secret until the following week.

The last statement his office made about his condition came on 15 November when it was announced that the president had finished his treatment.

“The medical team accompanying him confirms that the president has completed the recommended treatment protocol after having contracted COVID-19, and is currently undergoing medical tests,” the statement said.

Amid growing political discussions about Mr Tebboune’s whereabouts, a mock poster for a missing elderly man, who last appeared in public in mid-October, has been doing the rounds on Facebook.

Nabil, a finance worker from Algiers, the country’s capital, told Bloomberg news agency: “Why is the truth about Tebboune’s health being kept from us? Why don’t they show us pictures of him in hospital?”

“I can’t bear to be governed by a portrait again,” Nabil added, referring to the fact that Mr Tebboune’s ageing predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced from power last year, was also absent from the public sphere due to illness.

The absence of Mr Tebboune, who only assumed the role in December, comes at a busy time for the country, which is trying to recover from the pandemic and which is also set to have its constitution revised.

Algerians voted in favour of the constitutional changes at the start of this month by a margin of 66.8 to 33.2 per cent, according to Mohamed Charfi, the head of the election commission.

However, the vote was marred by a turnout of just 23.7 per cent, with pro-democracy activists saying it does not do enough to erode the power of those who have controlled Algeria since it gained independence from France in the 1960s.

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