ALGIERS (Reuters) - President Abdelaziz Bouteflika returned home to Algeria on Tuesday to convalesce, three months after he was rushed to hospital in France suffering from a stroke.
The presidency said the veteran leader would “continue a period of rest and rehabilitation” but did not say when he would resume state activities.
Bouteflika, 76, has ruled over the North African oil and gas producer for more than a decade and has not said if he plans to run for another term in a presidential election in April 2014.
The official APS news agency posted a photograph of Bouteflika in a meeting room with dignitaries including the prime minister, the speakers of the upper and lower houses of parliament, the army chief of staff of the army and the head of the constitutional council.
State television also broadcast brief footage of Bouteflika in conversation with the five officials.
It was his first appearance in the media since June 12, when state television showed him meeting his prime minister and army chief at the Institution Nationale des Invalides in Paris.
Otherwise he had not been seen in public since he was flown to hospital in France on April 27.
Algeria has been run with Soviet-style opaqueness for decades by an elite drawn largely from men who fought in the war of independence against France from 1954 to 1962.
Bouteflika, who became president in 1999, is among the last of that generation of leaders who retain a tradition of secrecy dating back to their fear of betrayal when they were insurgents.
Anis Rahmani, owner of Ennahar TV, said Bouteflika’s absence showed that Algeria’s institutions were strong enough to keep running smoothly.
“It also showed that the military has no willingness to seize power, the era of the military playing politics is over. Now that Bouteflika is back it means Algeria is back to normal,” he told Reuters.
Analyst Geoff Porter of North Africa Risk Consulting said he believed Bouteflika would resume his duties but was likely to curtail his day-to-day activity.
Porter expected him to delegate much responsibility to Prime Minister Sellal and Interior Minister Daho Ould Kabila.
“The former has been especially vital in managing the quotidian affairs of the state in Bouteflika’s absence and there is no reason to think that he will stop doing so,” Porter told Reuters.
Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers and Marine Pennetier in Paris; Editing by Angus MacSwan