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Aging president Algerians bombard Geneva hospital with Bouteflika calls

Bouteflika in a wheelchair in 2014

The Algerian president, seen here in 2014, is reportedly staying in a private wing of the Geneva hospital.

(Keystone)

Geneva University Hospital has been inundated with calls from Algerians inquiring about their president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is reportedly hospitalized there. 

The hospital, which receives an average 3,000 calls a day, estimates that it received more than 1,500 on Tuesday about Bouteflika, reports Swiss broadcaster RTS.

Hospital spokesman Nicolas de Saussure told RTS that calls had now returned to normal. He said the majority of callers from Algeria were seeking confirmation of Bouteflika’s presence at the hospital or wanting an update on his health. Only a minority of calls were “unfriendly”.

The surge in calls came after a report on French televisionexternal link filmed secretly in the hospital’s corridors seemed to confirm Bouteflika’s continued presence in a private wing there since February 24. 

An article on the Jeune Afriqueexternal link website said the report had sparked a social media campaign in Algeria to inundate the hospital with calls and E-mails. 

Tuesday’s episode had an effect on the operations of the hospital which had to increase evening standby staff, stop answering calls at one point and temporarily de-activate its Facebook page because of a large number of comments about Bouteflika that needed moderating. 

In Algeria, tens of thousands of people have been protesting over the past two weeks against a further presidential term for Bouteflika, 82, who is seeking re-election in April. He suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public.  


RTS/jc

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