Algeria’s Bouteflika Scorns France, Goes to Geneva for Medical Checkup, Tension Heats up

The Algerian ailing leader has been flown Sunday for medical checkup in Geneva instead of France where he often gets treated. Analysts suggest recent tweet by France Premier Manuel Valls showing an ailing Abdelaziz Bouteflika and jibes from French media may explain the choice of Geneva.

The choice of Geneva, according to analysts and media, underscores that tension is heating up between Algiers and Paris, amidst repeated statements by French officials renewing France’s unwavering support to Morocco’s autonomy plan as a serious and credible basis for the settlement of the Sahara conflict.

French-Algerian relations started to deteriorate after French paper “Le Monde” published a picture of the Algerian leader in a story on the Panama Papers.

Algiers reacted angrily and refused to issue an entry visa to the publication’s reporter to cover Valls’s visit to Algiers this month, accusing France of waging a hostile campaign against Algerian institutions.

The 79-year-old President has been used to going to France for medical checkups, especially after he suffered an intestinal hemorrhage in 2005 that required surgery. He was also flown to France in 2013 when he suffered from a stroke that glued him to a wheel chair and affected his speaking ability. Since then he has been regularly going to France for periodic medical checkups. His latest known visit took place in December

His health condition raises criticism about his ability to rule the country and also about France’s support to the ailing Algerian retired military General, who won the 2014 presidential elections for another five-year term, despite his poor health condition. Speculation about his succession is well underway in Algeria. Some well-known public figures including former supporters recently accused the President of losing control of the country.

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