Algeria's Bouteflika leaves French hospital
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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2013, left Saturday the French clinic where he has been hospitalised since last Thursday.
Bouteflika is expected to return to Algiers later Saturday after undergoing a medical checkup in France, said a source close to the Algerian presidency, adding that a presidential statement was expected later in the day.
Bouteflika was admitted to hospital in the French Alpine town of Grenoble on Thursday, according to French police and French government sources. Algerian sources dismissed the report and Algeria’s government gave no official confirmation.
However, an ambulance escorted by several cars left the Grenoble clinic around 1.30pm, according to AP journalists. The police confirmed that the Algerian president was in the motorcade, which then headed to the nearby Grenoble airport.
A veteran of Algeria’s war against France which ended with independence in 1962, Bouteflika, 77, has since returned to France several times for check-ups after a stroke in 2013.
Bouteflika was re-elected in May this year after a decade and a half in power, even though his poor health kept him off the campaign trail and earned him the nickname the “ghost president.”
Since his re-election, Bouteflika’s illness fueled speculation over transition in Algeria, a key energy supplier to Europe and a partner in Washington’s campaign against Islamist militants.
But Bouteflika remains popular among many Algerians who say he played an integral role in putting an end to a debilitating civil war that killed at least 150,000 people in the 1990s. He is also credited with making sure Arab Spring demonstrations did not spiral out of control in Algeria.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)