(Adds more details, background)
ALGIERS Jan 14 Algerian President Abdelaziz
Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke last year, has been in a Paris
hospital since Monday for a long-planned check-up and he is
making steady progress, the state news agency APS said on
Algerians vote for a new president in April. Bouteflika, 76,
has yet to announce whether he will run again after more than 10
years at the helm of the major North African oil producer.
"To complete his health assessment, started in Algiers, and
under a routine medical control ... planned since June 2013, the
President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika is staying at
Val-de-Grace hospital," it said. "The president's health is
improving certainly and progressively."
APS, citing a presidential statement, said Bouteflika would
remain at the hospital until Friday.
A veteran of Algeria's independence war against France,
Bouteflika suffered a stroke in early 2013, forcing him to be
rushed to hospital in France. He returned to Algeria in July to
convalesce and has made only a few public appearances recently.
Political uncertainty in Algeria comes at a sensitive time
in North Africa, where Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are still
struggling with democratic transitions after popular uprisings
ousted their veteran leaders in 2011.
With a cushion of $200 billion in reserves from oil and gas
sales, OPEC-member Algeria is financially stable. Opposition
parties are weak and Algerians have little appetite for major
upheaval after a conflict with armed Islamists in the 1990s
killed around 200,000 people.
Algeria's ruling FLN party has been touting Bouteflika as
its only candidate, but his illness since last year has prompted
speculation among analysts that he may be forced to hand over to
a political successor.
(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; writing by Patrick Markey;
editing by Gareth Jones)