Attempts to quash the truth of Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s declining health have failed

Since suffering a stroke in 2013, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been ill and unable to move. His last speech was made a year before that happened, and in it he promised that “his generation – that of the decolonisers – is done, dusted” and that he would pass the torch to the new generation. The speech was aimed at placating the under-30s, who make up the biggest demographic in Algeria but who have no political representation in the country.

Bouteflika did not keep his promise and is still in power. The president is now invisible, ill, mute and has been replaced by a portrait that his supporters parade throughout the country and embrace in front of the cameras. But that has not stopped him and his men – his brother, the chief of armed forces and a handful of loyal businessmen and ministers from his region – setting their sights on a surreal fifth mandate.

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