Mon, 30 Nov 2020

CAIRO - Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is in the Ain Naadja Military Hospital in Algiers after reportedly contracting COVID-19.

Tebboune was hospitalized Tuesday after reportedly contracting the disease several days ago. Algerian TV indicated in a terse statement that his health was "not a cause for worry."

The president's hospitalization came days before a scheduled November 1 constitutional referendum that could give the country's top leader more power, while at the same time limiting his tenure to two five-year terms.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad, who announced the president's hospitalization for "specialized treatment," has been campaigning across the country in recent days to urge Algerians to approve the proposed constitutional changes.

He said the amendments did not represent a break from the current Tebboune era, but rather a break from corruption.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told VOA that the president's illness was cause for worry, but that he didn't think the country would fall apart because of it.

Diab said that given Tebboune's age (74), there is always some sort of risk with this kind of illness, but he said Algeria's governmental institutions have shown themselves to be fairly solid and that the referendum would go ahead as planned Sunday.

Several French and Algerian media outlets suggested there were underlying tensions between Tebboune and the country's military over the referendum. The Algerian military is a major power broker in the country and played a key role in the transition in 2019 between Tebboune and former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

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