Algerian president out of hospital

The president of Algeria has been released from hospital in Paris after a three-week stay shrouded in secrecy.

    Bouteflika appeared briefly on state television on Saturday

    Abdelaziz Bouteflika was released from Val de Grace military hospital on Saturday and was later shown on Algerian state television's evening news bulletin, looking somewhat tired but smiling. He told Algerians they had no need to be worried.

    But controversy continued over the news coverage of the president's illness. Algerian state and private media outlets are at odds over the information, or lack of it, provided about the president's state of health.

    Anne Robert, spokeswoman for the hospital, simply confirmed President Bouteflika had been discharged, without giving further details.

    But his doctor, Messaoud Zitouni, said in a statement from Paris, carried by the Algerian APS news agency, that the president was doing well.

    "The health of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is developing well and there is a very good prognosis as a result of the surgery he had. During his stay in hospital his doctors prescribed additional check-ups as part of an in-depth health examination, as the results of the check-ups were satisfactory, the doctors decided that the president should be released from hospital", he said.

    Stomach ulcer

    An Algerian source in Paris said Bouteflika was in a rest home in the Paris region.

    The source, who was not identified, did not say how long the leader would stay in the home but another source, in Algiers, said it would be several days.

    The Algerian source in Paris added that an Algerian television crew had flown to the French capital.

    However Bouteflika was only shown with his doctor entering a large room at the president's residence in Paris, where they sat down in red-coloured armchairs, next to an Algerian flag.

    Bouteflika uttered a few words as photographers' flashes went off, before handing over to Zitouni.

    He said Bouteflika had undergone "a total cure", repeating that he had suffered "a bleeding ulcer which necessitated a surgical operation."

    Conflicting information

    A lack of official information about Bouteflika's health since he was hospitalised on November 26 had fuelled speculation that his condition might be more serious than publicly admitted.

    Algiers dismissed as "crazy rumours" the speculation about Bouteflika's illness and had said he was making a normal recovery in hospital.

    But on Saturday independent newspapers continued to attack, what they called, an "information embargo", while the state-run media, especially television, applauded "transparency" and lashed out at "tendentious" comment in foreign media.

    El Watan called on the authorities to publish a full account of Bouteflika's state of health "to put the brakes on this destabilising spiral of rumour" accompanied by television pictures.

    Rai singer Cheb Mami (L) says
    the president is doing "really well" 

    On Friday the Algerian rai singer Cheb Mami said he had visited Bouteflika the day before and found him "really well".

    The conservative Ech-Chorouk newspaper commented, "when Cheb Mami becomes a source of news about the state of health of the president, senior figures in the government should be sent into compulsory retirement".

    State media retaliated by praising the president for avoiding "exhibitionism, still less disinformation and lies." State radio attacked "perfidious gossip" in the Moroccan media and some French outlets. 



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