Quoting “presidential security sources”, the Algerian information website Algeria Times announced the death of President Abdelaziz Bouteflikaon Wednesday. According to the report, religious affairs minister Bouabdellah Ghlamallah was called urgently to El Mouradia palace. Moreover, the daily said that army units stationed in Algiers’ Ben Aknoun barracks were put under maximum alert.
The information wasn’t officially confirmed, but it has already prompted hundreds of comments on the Internet, including on web forums used by pro-jihadi activists.
One has to recall that several rumours about the death of president Bouteflika were spread in the past. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that he hasn’t appeared publicly since September 13. According to various Algerian and French information websites and newspapers, he might have been admitted in Paris’ Val-de-Grâce military hospital for “medical examination”.
Meanwhile, several sources later reported that he received Qatari foreign minister Hamed Ben Jassem Ben Jaber Al Thani in audience earlier today in Algiers.
The credibility of such information is almost impossible to assess given the stiff control exercised by authorities over any information concerning President’s health. Given the extremely tense social climate reigning in the capital and across the country, the reactions in the street and on the Internet should however be followed carefully, especially as such rumours could spark new outbreak of civil unrest incidents in the coming hours.