Algeria President Bouteflika in Paris hospital
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was in a Paris hospital for tests Sunday after suffering a mini-stroke, but is reportedly not experiencing any lasting effects from his latest health scare.
The 76-year-old, who has been in power since 1999, suffered a "transient ischemia" Saturday, a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain often called a "mini-stroke", said Rachid Bougherbal, the director of Algeria's National Sports Medicine Centre.
"An initial investigation has already been opened and his excellency the president of the republic must observe a period of rest to undergo exams," Bougherbal told the APS news agency.
He insisted there was no cause for "any anxiety" over the president's health.
Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal also urged calm in comments reported by APS.
"Several hours ago the president felt a little faint and was hospitalised, but his situation is not at all serious," said Sellal, who did not interrupt a visit Saturday to the northern city of Bejaia.
APS said Bouteflika had been taken to the French capital for "further tests under the recommendation of his doctor", citing a medical source who said his condition was stable but that he would need several days of rest.
The Algerian president arrived at Le Bourget airport outside Paris and was driven under army escort to the Val de Grace military hospital, which often treats high-profile patients from France and abroad.
A veteran of Algeria's war for independence from France, Bouteflika later helped end a decade-long civil war that killed at least 150,000 people, and is known abroad for bringing stability to the country.
But he still comes under criticism from rights groups and opponents who condemn him as authoritarian, despite launching political reforms in April 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring unrest that toppled other long-standing rulers in the region.
Elected president in 1999 and re-elected in 2004, then again in 2009 thanks to a constitutional change ending term limits, Bouteflika had a previous health scare in late 2005, when he underwent surgery in Paris for a bleeding stomach ulcer and spent three weeks in Val de Grace.
His hospital stay was shrouded in secrecy, and the lack of official information fuelled fears his condition might be more serious than admitted.
But the government dismissed as "crazy rumours" the speculation about his health, including suggestions that he may be suffering from stomach cancer.
In early 2006 he spent a week undergoing post-operative medical exams at the same hospital.
Several months later he disappeared from public view for 50 days, again sparking speculation about his health and whereabouts.
A year after his surgery, he said he had been "very, very sick" but had "come out absolutely fabulous".
"People need to stop talking about my health," he said.