Algeria's Murky Presidency
Mr Bouteflika can hardly speak and is said to communicate by letter with his ministers, who nevertheless insist that the old man is compos mentis and in charge. But several close associates of the president aren’t buying it. Having not seen Mr Bouteflika for over a year, they have demanded a meeting with him—so far to no avail. Missing person is right, they say.
Algerian politics is nothing if not murky. For decades a cabal of unelected power brokers has run the show. Known as le pouvoir (the power), the shadowy clique is composed of members of the economic, political and military elite. But with Mr Bouteflika’s health in decline, there appears to be a struggle within the group over who will succeed him...
Algerians have grown accustomed to mystery. Few knew that Houari Boumédiène, Algeria’s second president, was even ill until he died in 1978. At the time, Mr Bouteflika was seen as a potential successor, only to be passed over by the army. Two decades later the generals finally tapped him for the job.