#Algeria : The prolonged absence from Algeria of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has awakened the specter, for many Algerians and in the media, of the vacancy in power during the hospitalizations abroad of Abdelaziz Bouteflika after his serious stroke.
The concise communication of the presidency on his state of health, the orchestrated rumors of an “imminent return” and the paralysis at the top of the state recall the last term of the ousted ex-president, treated many times in France and in France. Swiss.
“Faced with contradictory information marked with the seal of opacity, Algerians are wondering about the real state of health of Tebboune”, calls out an Internet user, Abbes, on Facebook.
Struck by a stroke in 2013, Abdelaziz Bouteflika had never been able to find his full capacities but he had continued to assume the presidential office before being ousted from power in April 2019 by a popular uprising for wanting to run for a fifth term.
“The + frame + is back”, iron users on social networks ironically: a reference to the famous framed portrait of Mr. Bouteflika systematically exposed during official ceremonies to make up for his absence.
President Tebboune’s last public appearance dates back to October 15 at the reception of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, according to local media.
Vacance of power
“Stable state of health“. “Not of concern”. “Constant improvement” …
The health bulletins published on the presidency’s Facebook account, then taken up by the public and private media, are intended to be reassuring. They are not very detailed but more regular than under Bouteflika.
Since Tebboune left for Cologne aboard a medical plane, six succinct communiques have kept Algerians informed of his condition, in particular that of November 8 in which he personally wishes to “reassure the Algerian people”.
But in the midst of a health, political and economic crisis, its absence hardly goes unnoticed.
This was the case on November 1, during the referendum on a revision of the Constitution, one of its flagship projects, sanctioned by a historically low turnout.
A poll “overshadowed by an event reminiscent of the end of President Bouteflika’s reign”, underlines Michaël Béchir Ayari, researcher for the NGO International Crisis Group (ICG).
“This sequence has reinforced the feeling of many Algerians according to which power remains a creature of the past and that the Tebboune presidency and its referendum are fully in line with continuity rather than rupture,” he observes.
At the economic level, the power vacuum comes at a time when Algeria “needs a comprehensive and structural reform, and when investors in oil and gas are waiting for the adoption of the texts of the hydrocarbons code” which should soften their legal and tax regime, notes Anthony Skinner, director of North Africa and the Middle East of the risk and strategy consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft.
“Who is in charge?” Asks commentator Abed Charef, who calls for the application of article 102 of the Constitution which provides for declaring “the state of impediment” in the event of the president’s incapacity.
For the journalist Kadi El Ihsane, Algeria is in “a new crisis of the presidential function, similar to that opened by the stroke of Abdelaziz Bouteflika” in 2013.
“The government continues to mechanically apply a roadmap for resuming social life at the wrong time of the epidemiological cycle”, regrets Mr. El Ihsane, director of the economic information site Maghreb Emergent.
“The hospitalization and then the exile of President Tebboune has permanently deactivated the chain of administrative decisions,” he says.
Thus, the crucial 2021 finance bill, adopted Tuesday by the National People’s Assembly (APN), now awaits the signature of the president.
The information delivered in a dropper as soon as Tebboune entered confinement and the distrust of many Algerians vis-à-vis official sources of information fuel speculation.