Covid-19: Algerian President Tebboune in Germany for “medical examinations”

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, 74, was transferred to Germany on Wednesday evening for “in-depth medical examinations”, the presidency said in Algiers after the announcement of suspected cases of the new coronavirus in the entourage of the head of state . The day before, the presidency had affirmed that Mr. Tebboune, a heavy smoker, had been admitted to a specialized care unit of the central army hospital in Algiers, but that his state of health did not inspire “any concern”.

She did not specify the exact causes of her hospitalization in Algiers or those of her transfer to Germany. But on Saturday she let it be known that Mr. Tebboune had put himself “voluntarily” in isolation for five days after the possible contamination by the new coronavirus of several senior officials of the presidency and the government.

“The President of the Republic has been transferred to Germany for in-depth medical examinations on the recommendation of the medical staff,” the presidency said in a statement. This announcement comes four days before a referendum on the revision of the Constitution presented by the Algerian president to found a “new Republic”.

Mr. Tebboune was supposed to inaugurate Wednesday evening the prayer room of the great mosque of Algiers, the third largest in the world, on the eve of the Mawlid feast, the birth of the prophet of Islam Muhammad. It was Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Djerad who inaugurated it in his place. After several weeks of slow decline, Algeria, whose borders remain closed, has been experiencing an upsurge in contamination with Covid-19 disease for two weeks. More than 57,000 cases have been officially recorded in this country of 44 million inhabitants since February, including more than 1,940 deaths.

The “relaxation” of the population stigmatized by the government

Abdelaziz Djerad deplored on Sunday the “relaxation” of the population in compliance with preventive measures against the pandemic. Mr. Tebboune was elected on December 12, 2019 with 58.13% of the votes in the 1st round, a ballot which saw the lowest participation of all pluralist presidential elections in Algeria: 39.38%. He succeeded Abdelaziz Bouteflika, chased in April 2019 by an unprecedented peaceful popular protest movement that shook Algeria for more than a year before his suspension several months ago due to the new coronavirus.

The protest movement calls for a change in the “system” in place since the country’s independence in 1962. Until now, to no avail, even if it obtained the departure of Mr. Bouteflika after 20 years of reign, synonymous with authoritarianism, corruption and nepotism. Mr. Tebboune, who has made a career in the state apparatus, notably alongside Abdelaziz Bouteflika who will very briefly make him his Prime Minister, is the first president of Algeria not to come from the ranks of the veterans of the war of independence against the French colonial power (1954-1962).

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