Bouteflika "fine", back in Algeria after health checks -source

ALGIERS Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:18am EST

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen at the presidential palace in Algiers December 11, 2011. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen at the presidential palace in Algiers December 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Louafi Larbi

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ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's health is "fine" and he has returned to Algeria after a checkup at a Paris hospital this week, a source close to the presidency said on Thursday.

Bouteflika, 76, left the North African oil producing state for France on Monday and had been scheduled to leave the Paris hospital again on Friday after what the state news agency APS said was routine checks. He suffered a stroke early last year.

APS said on Thursday that Bouteflika's medical team had allowed the president to leave 24 hours earlier than the planned departure after he showed "marked improvement".

Algerians will vote for a new president in April and Bouteflika has yet to announce whether he will run again after more than 10 years at the helm of his country.

His very return to hospital, however, reignited speculation that the president who oversaw Algeria's emergence from almost a decade of civil war may be unable to stand for re-election.

Any potential transition in Algeria would come at a delicate time, with neighboring Egypt and Libya deep in turmoil three years after "Arab Spring" revolts that ousted their long-term leaders.

(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; writing by Patrick Markey/Mark Heinrich)

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