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Published: Wednesday January 15, 2014 MYT 2:00:03 AM
Updated: Wednesday January 15, 2014 MYT 2:00:03 AM

Algeria's Bouteflika in Paris hospital for planned checks

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen at the presidential palace in Algiers December 11, 2011. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen at the presidential palace in Algiers December 11, 2011. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke last year, has been in a Paris hospital since Monday for a long-planned check-up and he is making steady progress, the state news agency APS said on Tuesday.

Algerians vote for a new president in April. Bouteflika, 76, has yet to announce whether he will run again after more than 10 years at the helm of the major North African oil producer.

"To complete his health assessment, started in Algiers, and under a routine medical control ... planned since June 2013, the President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika is staying at Val-de-Grace hospital," it said. "The president's health is improving certainly and progressively."

APS, citing a presidential statement, said Bouteflika would remain at the hospital until Friday.

A veteran of Algeria's independence war against France, Bouteflika suffered a stroke in early 2013, forcing him to be rushed to hospital in France. He returned to Algeria in July to convalesce and has made only a few public appearances recently.

Political uncertainty in Algeria comes at a sensitive time in North Africa, where Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are still struggling with democratic transitions after popular uprisings ousted their veteran leaders in 2011.

With a cushion of $200 billion in reserves from oil and gas sales, OPEC-member Algeria is financially stable. Opposition parties are weak and Algerians have little appetite for major upheaval after a conflict with armed Islamists in the 1990s killed around 200,000 people.

Algeria's ruling FLN party has been touting Bouteflika as its only candidate, but his illness since last year has prompted speculation among analysts that he may be forced to hand over to a political successor.

(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; writing by Patrick Markey; editing by Gareth Jones)

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