Health of Algeria’s president ‘significantly improved’

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The health of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, hospitalized in France last month after suffering a mini-stroke, has “significantly improved,” the presidency announced on Tuesday.

Bouteflika’s health “has significantly improved” but the 76-year-old president must observe “a normal period of rest prescribed by his doctors,” it said in a statement carried by the national APS news agency.

The presidency said the tests carried out at a military hospital in Algiers on April 27 after he suffered a “transient ischaemia,” had shown that the state of his health “did not raise any concerns.”

“His doctors nevertheless recommended further medical investigations at the Paris hospital of Val-du-Grace, after which the president will began the prescribed rest period,” the statement added.

The Algerian press has in recent days sharply criticized the lack of official communication about Bouteflika’s health, already considered fragile before the latest scare, which has sparked intense discussion about his future.

On April 30, Bouteflika addressed Algerians for the first time since arriving in Paris, congratulating workers on the eve of the Labor Day holiday, in a message carried by national media, and insisting he was on the road to recovery.

The following day, in a separate message, he promised “an unlimited support” for the freedom of the press, ahead of International Press Freedom Day.

The ageing president’s health has been an endless source of speculation in Algeria since 2005 when he had surgery at the same Paris hospital for a bleeding stomach ulcer and spent a long period convalescing.

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable in 2007 suggested he might be suffering from terminal stomach cancer, and since being re-elected for a third term in 2009 he has rarely appeared in public or travelled outside the capital.

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