Middle East

Algeria's ailing Bouteflika 'well-informed': French PM

File - Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen at the presidential palace in Algiers, in this file picture taken December 11, 2011. (REUTERS/Louafi Larbi)

ORAN, Algeria: Ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is "well-informed" of developments in Algeria, despite having been largely unseen for months because of health woes, French premier Jean-Marc Ayrault said Tuesday after meeting him.

The 76-year-old president, in power since 1999, returned home in July after nearly three months in France recovering from a mini-stroke.

"Our 45-minute meeting went very well. He has been very brave since his illness," Ayrault told journalists in the western city of Oran, on the last of his two-day visit to Algeria.

"He is very well-informed on the different issues. I was very surprised by how he is following the situation."

Despite persistent questions about his ability to rule, Bouteflika was last month designated his party's candidate in the 2014 presidential election, indicating that he will run for a fourth term.

A frail-looking Bouteflika returned to Algeria wheelchair-ridden in July following 80 days of treatment at a Paris hospital after what his doctors described as a mini-stroke.

He presided over his first cabinet meeting of the year in September, and has received various visiting Arab dignitaries, as well as the mayor of Paris and Ayrault.

But the fact that he has not been seen or heard in public since his return from France has fuelled speculation about Bouteflika's health just four months ahead of next year's leadership contest.





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