ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s president was hospitalized Saturday after having a mini-stroke without serious complications, the state news agency said.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 76, had a brief blockage of a blood vessel — called a transient ischemic attack — around noon, Rachid Bougherbal, the director of the national center of sports medicine told the state news agency.
“His excellency the president of the republic must observe a period of rest for further examinations,” he said, adding that “there was no reason for worry.”
Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said the president was hospitalized, “but the situation is not serious.”
Bouteflika has ruled the oil-rich North African country since 1999 and has long believed to be in poor health and rarely appears in public. The state news agency rarely carries any reports on the president’s health
The announcement also comes as speculation is rife that Bouteflika will run for a fourth term in presidential elections just a year away, despite promises to step down. In Algeria, power is delicately shared between civilian politicians and the powerful military.
Algeria is one of Africa’s richest countries, as the No. 3 supplier of natural gas to Europe, with $190 billion in reserves, up $8 billion in the last year alone.
On Jan. 16, a band of al-Qaida affiliated militants attacked the Ain Amenas gas plant and took dozens of foreign workers hostage. After a four-day standoff, the Algerian army moved in and killed 29 attackers and captured three others. At least 37 hostages, including one Algerian worker, died in the battle.
According to the American Stroke Association, a TIA, as it is known, is caused by a temporary blood clot and lasts just a short time and “usually causes no permanent injury to the brain.” A third of those suffering from TIA, also known as “warning strokes,” go on to have a full stroke within the next year, according to website of the association.