Algeria: Bouteflika's health heightens concern for future

Political impasse, president's resignation encouraged

18 November, 14:22

    (by Diego Minuti) (ANSAmed) - ROME, NOVEMBER 18 - A countdown has probably begun leading up to the likely farewell from Algeria's political and institutional scenario of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

    Although nothing has transpired from the tight-knit presidential entourage over such an imminent evolution, the country is eyeing the future with concern due to the precarious health of the head of State.

    Bouteflika was recently treated at the cardiology department of a private clinic in Grenoble, causing widespread concern over whether the president is still capable of leading the country.

    The matter was also in doubt during presidential elections in which Boueflika practically played no part, except when he headed to the polls in a wheelchair, escorted by relatives and aides.

    His hospitalization then unleashed protests across the web, also because Bouteflika had de facto stressed the poor condition of the Algerian healthcare system by seeking treatment in France.

    But the real problem that will need to be confronted sooner or later is the timing of Boueflika's resignation, which many believe is imminent.

    When he was re-elected - though affected by a stroke that forced him out of politics for months - he assured he wanted to finish his mandate, a statement that has persuaded few, especially after footage broadcast by a sympathetic State TV showed him significantly affected by his illness.

    But the entourage around the president shows no sign it is willing to let go of power.

    If Bouteflika's irreversible inability to fulfill his position was recognized, those who have Algeria's best interest at heart could study a smart exit strategy, perhaps in the medium term.

    Otherwise, a sudden political void, even if likely, could open a very difficult political match to solve.

    A transition, possibly following an agreement between Bouteflika's supporters and the opposition open to dialogue, could reduce to the minimum the likelihood of devastating repercussions - something which the country certainly does not need as its economy is dealing with the oil crisis. (ANSAmed)
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