Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune marks a year in office on Saturday, but he is nowhere in sight following his evacuation to Germany more than six weeks ago for coronavirus treatment.
The president’s office issued a statement on November 30 saying he had left a “specialised” medical facility, was continuing his convalescence and should be returning home “in the coming days”.
The statement compounded the growing mystery surrounding the 75-year-old, his whereabouts and his health. The clinic where he was treated was never identified.
The absence of the head of state, who also serves as defence chief, recalled the long absences of his predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Mr Bouteflika underwent treatment in France for a stroke in 2013 and later in Switzerland for numerous medical check-ups, with lots of speculation and little information on his whereabouts or health.
He rarely appeared in public but kept ruling, and was forced to abandon his bid for a fifth term last year before being pushed from office under pressure from street protests and the powerful army.
Mr Tebboune left for Germany October 28.
Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad has been in charge during Mr Tebboune’s absence, conspicuous as the country struggles with an economy made worse by the pandemic and a host of other issues.
Constitutional law professor Fatiha Benabou said there is no date limiting the time Mr Tebboune can be away.
“Authorities have a large margin of manoeuvre,” she said. “But on a political level, the absence of the president, who embodies the essential powers, is obviously a problem.”