A month after the emergency transfer of Abdelmadjid Tebboune to Germany to be treated for Covid-19, opacity remains on the state of health of the Algerian president, fueling rumors and questions about the direction of the country.

Aged 75, the head of state was admitted on October 28 in "one of the largest specialized establishments in Germany", without specifying the location.

He has been away for at least five weeks.

Because he was "voluntarily in isolation" from October 24, the date of his last tweet, after having been in contact with senior government officials contaminated, then admitted "to a specialized care unit in the Ain Naâdja military hospital in Algiers. "His state of health does not inspire any concern," then assumed the presidency. But rumors are now rife.

"This long absence due to illness, coupled with a tongue-in-cheek information 'protocol', indicates that the president is really ill," observes Algerian political scientist Mohamed Hennad.

The absence of Abdelmadjid Tebboune has awakened the specter of the power vacuum during the hospitalizations abroad of Abdelaziz Bouteflika after his serious stroke in 2013.

Conflicting information

Following this episode, it was his brother Saïd who led the country and tried with the presidential clan to impose a fifth term of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, pushing Algerians to take to the streets in February 2019. The latter will resign on April 2, 2019 under the double pressure of the army and the popular uprising, unprecedented and peaceful, of the Hirak.

>> To read also on France24.com: Abdelmadjid Tebboune, an apparatchik at the head of the Algerian state

Since his departure - for Cologne and aboard a French medical plane, according to Algerian media - six summary and sometimes contradictory statements have been issued by the presidency.

Thus, after announcing on October 28 that he was hospitalized in Germany for "in-depth medical examinations", the Presidency explained the next day that he was receiving "adequate treatment and [that] his state of health [was] stable and not worrying ", without ever specifying what was suffering from Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who is a heavy smoker.

It was not until November 3 that a lapidary statement announced that he was infected with Covid-19.

Five days later, the presidency indicated that the head of state was "in the process of completing his treatment".

Then on November 15, another press release stated that he had completed his treatment and was undergoing "medical examinations".

Since then, there has been silence, except for a dispatch from the official APS agency on November 20 reporting a letter from German Chancellor Angela Merkel "in which she is delighted that he has recovered from his infection in coronavirus ".

Asked by AFP, a German government spokesperson replied that "the German Chancellor [had] sent a written message of speedy recovery to President Tebboune", without further details.

Rumors and speculations of all kinds

This at least fragmentary communication and the absence of images of the president continue to fuel rumors and speculations of all kinds in Algeria, at a time when this country is undergoing a resurgence of the pandemic.

The uncertainty over the state of President Tebboune - who is supposed to promulgate the new Constitution after the November 1 referendum and ratify the 2021 Finance Law - is pushing some voices to demand the application of Article 102 of the Basic Law, relating to the vacancy of power, in order to avoid a constitutional crisis.

"Article 102 makes things easier to the extent that the finding of a vacancy of power is made in two stages: the state of temporary incapacity [of the president], for a maximum duration of forty-five days, then his full resignation beyond this period ", explains political scientist Mohamed Hennad.

In this case, the Acting President of the Senate, Salah Goudjil, an 89-year-old veteran of the War of Independence, will act as interim president pending the election of a new head of state.

With AFP

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