German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Algeria has been postponed due to the falling health of Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The two day trip was part of efforts by the German Chancellor to stem the flow of Algerian migrants and speed up the repatriation process of the Algerian nationals who failed to receive refugee status.
Local media outlets say that the visit was called off due to Bouteflika’s severe bronchitis. Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s government spokesman, wrote on Twitter that the Algerian government requested the postponement and that “the chancellor complied with the request.”
Algeria’s 79-year-old leader rarely appears in public since a 2013 stroke left him confined to a wheelchair. He has since traveled several times to France for medical treatment.
Weakened by her open-door migrant policy, Merkel is pressured to push for ways to encourage rejected North African asylum seekers living in Germany to depart the country and return home after she received harsh criticism on the backdrop of the Berlin market attack.
Last year the success rates for asylum requests was 3.5 percent for Moroccans, 2.7 percent for Algerians and just 0.8 percent for Tunisians.
Algeria’s prospects seem bleak in light of Bouteflika’s incapacity to govern coupled with the opacity characterizing a regime dominated by a security apparatus where power is generally presumed to reside among groups of military leaders, intelligence officials, businessmen, and politicians collectively known as le pouvoir.