Algeria’s leaders return to Germany to be treated for Covid-19 complications

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune flew back to Germany on Sunday for treatment in hospital for foot complications due to a coronavirus infection, the presidency said.

Tebboune, 75 years old and a heavy smoker, had returned to Algeria later in December after a two-month absence in Germany, where he received treatment for Covid-19.

The president had spoken shortly after his return and wished “a happy new year to all Algerians”, “much better than 2020” and suggested that he was almost cured of the virus.

His prolonged absence had raised concerns about an institutional crisis, after voters in November approved a revised constitution with record low turnout in a referendum widely seen as a maneuver to neutralize a protracted protest movement.

Tebboune signed the new constitution into law on January 1, promoting the controversial text as “the cornerstone of the new Algeria”.

The president’s illness came as Algeria faced a severe recession due to the new coronavirus pandemic and a gaping budget deficit due to low crude prices that have reduced the country’s important oil revenues.

Tebboune won a broadly boycotted presidential election in December 2019, after months of mass protests that had swept his predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office.

His absence for health reasons reminded many Algerians of Bouteflika’s frequent hospital stays abroad.

Mass protests erupted in early 2019 against the sick octogenarian’s bid for a fifth term.

The meetings, led by what became known as the Hirak movement, continued far beyond Bouteflika’s departure in April 2019 and were not interrupted until the coronavirus pandemic struck.

( Jowharwith AFP, REUTERS)