Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is recovering with the help of physical rehabilitation in France more than a month after he was rushed to hospital there suffering from a stroke, the presidency said.
Bouteflika has been neither heard nor seen in public since he was taken in for treatment in Paris on April 27, raising widespread speculation about his state of health.
“His doctors recommended he undergo a period of care and functional rehabilitation to boost the favorable development of his health at the Institution Nationale des Invalides,” read the statement carried on state news agency APS, Reuters reports.
Algeria’s prime minister and the chief of staff of its army also held a near two-hour meeting with Bouteflika on Tuesday afternoon and updated him on the political and security situation in his country, the agency later reported.
The president “is responding well and his health is fine,” Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said, according to APS.
Bouteflika, who has ruled over the North African oil and gas producer for more than a decade, had an “ischemic”, or mini-stroke, which has not affected his vital functions, the report said, repeating the diagnosis at the time of his transfer to France.
Algeria is due to hold a presidential election in April 2014 and were Bouteflika to disappear from the political scene before that, authorities would have to scramble to find an alternative candidate and the constitutional means of running the country until then.
Algeria has been run with Soviet-style secrecy for decades by an elite drawn largely from men who fought in the war of independence against France from 1954 to 1962.
Bouteflika, who first became president in 1999, is among the last of that generation, who retain a tradition of secrecy dating back to their fear of betrayal during their time as insurgents.
U.S. diplomatic cables leaked in 2011 said Bouteflika had been suffering from cancer but it was in remission.
A transient ischemic attack is a temporary blockage in a blood vessel to the brain. it typically lasts for less than five minutes and “usually causes no permanent injury to the brain”, the American Stroke Association says on its website.