Algeria campaign chief plays down Bouteflika health worry

Zaalane insists 82-year-old leader’s health raises ‘no worries’ after almost completing medical tests, that he would be re-elected by silent majority.

ALGIERS - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has almost completed the medical tests at the Swiss hospital he was transferred to on February 24, the head of his controversial re-election campaign said Thursday.

Abdelghani Zaalane insisted the 82-year-old leader's health raised "no worries" and that he would be vindicated by a silent majority in Algeria who have not joined huge protests against his candidacy.

The medical tests which Bouteflika has been undergoing in a Geneva hospital are "almost completed" and "his state of health raises no worries", Zaalane told El Khabar newspaper.

He did not give a date for the president's return to Algeria.

Bouteflika has used a wheelchair since suffering a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public.

The decision to put himself forward for the April 18 election has drawn tens of thousands of protesters onto the streets.

In a bid to calm public ire, Bouteflika has pledged to step down early if re-elected to a fifth term in office.

"Whether Algerians have rejected or accepted the reforms nobody can predict before the results of the ballot are known," said Zaalane, referring to the proposed concessions.

The campaign chief said they would have to "take into account the opinion of Algerians who have not taken to the streets and have held onto their views until election day".