Algeria president heads to Switzerland for new medical check-up

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen in Algiers, Algeria, on April 9, 2018. (REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo)
Updated 28 August 2018
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Algeria president heads to Switzerland for new medical check-up

  • Bouteflika has been frail since suffering a stroke in 2013
  • With a presidential election due to take place in April 2019, politicians have already been preparing for a fifth term under Bouteflika
ALGIERS: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika flew Monday to Switzerland for a medical check-up, his office said, months ahead of an election with no clear successor in sight for the ailing 81-year-old.
The statement, carried by the APS news agency, gave no further details about the “routine medical check-up” in Geneva, nor did it say how long Bouteflika was expected to be out of the country.
Bouteflika has been frail since suffering a stroke in 2013, which weakened his mobility and forced him to work from his residence in Zeralda, west of Algiers.
Bouteflika has since traveled abroad several times to undergo medical examinations in Paris, the southeastern French city of Grenoble and in Geneva.
Rumors often swirl in Algeria about the state of the president’s health, with opposition leaders quick to express concerns about a possible “power vacuum” if he were to die.
But with a presidential election due to take place in April 2019, politicians have already been preparing for a fifth term under Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999.
In April, the secretary general of his National Liberation Front, Djamel Ould Abbes, asked him to run for re-election.
And in June, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said his Rally for National Democracy (RND) party would support the president “continuing his mission and his sacrifice in the service of Algeria.”
In 2014, the year after his stroke, Bouteflika’s decision to seek a fourth term sparked criticism from those who questioned his ability to rule.
Bouteflika only makes rare public appearances, during which he is usually seen sitting in a wheelchair.


Ports deal is chance for Yemen peace talks, says UN envoy

Updated 21 February 2019
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Ports deal is chance for Yemen peace talks, says UN envoy

  • Forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa
  • The second phase a withdrawal of 18 to 30 kilometers, depending on the location and fighters

NEW YORK: The expected pullout of forces from three key ports in Yemen provides an opportunity to move to the major goal of ending the four-year conflict that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the UN envoy for the war-battered country said on Tuesday.

Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council that Yemen’s government and Houthi militias demonstrated that they are able to deliver on commitments they made in December in Stockholm by agreeing on the first phase of redeployment from the ports.

He said forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, beginning “possibly” on Tuesday or Wednesday. This will be followed by a pullout from the major port of Hodeidah and critical parts of the city that will allow access to the Red Sea Mills, a major UN storage facility holding enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, he said.

Griffiths called on the parties to fully implement the first phase and to agree on details of the second phase of the redeployment of forces, “which we hope will lead to the demilitarization” of Hodeidah, whose port handles about 70 percent of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.

A UN official said the first phase involves pulling back several kilometers, and the second phase a withdrawal of 18 to 30 kilometers, depending on the location and fighters. In some places in Hodeidah city, the opposing forces are facing each other about 100 meters apart, the official said.

The UN is appealing for more than $4 billion to assist 15 million Yemenis this year and UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock implored donors to pledge generously at a conference next week in Geneva.