In the absence of television footage of the recovering president, alarmist rumors are spreading. Memories of the long months of whispering that accompanied the sickness and death of Houari Boumedienne at the end of 1978 are resurfacing. Officially, he was on a friendly visit to the Soviet Union. In reality, he was receiving his last medical care abroad.Meanwhile, medical experts say Bouteflika is likely to have stomach cancer, which at his age is no easy thing to treat.
Mistrust is therefore widespread. The man on the street is convinced that he is not being told something. Some speak of poisoning, others of heart problems or cancer, even death. The most routine announcements are interpreted as dramatic news.
"Public institutions are paralyzed. Bouteflika concentrated all powers. He had gained control over everything. The result: no decision can be taken. Ministers just carry out routine affairs and their advisers are even more bored than usual!" says ironically a senior Algerian official for whom "everybody is just clocking in these days."