ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria's ailing president is in a Paris military hospital for what his office said Tuesday is a routine checkup as he continues to recover from a stroke last year.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika was admitted Monday and is expected to stay until Friday in what the statement from the presidency maintained was an appointment scheduled back in June when he was recovering from a stroke in April.
Last year, the 76-year-old president was hospitalized for four months in Paris, first at the Val-de-Grace hospital, then at the Invalides institution. He has seemed visibly weak in rare television appearances since then.
"No emergency procedure has dictated this planned trip," said the statement, which described his health as improving "gradually" and "steadily."
Algeria will hold a presidential election in just three months, and Bouteflika, Algeria's president since 1999, has yet to announce whether he will run for a fourth term.
While there has been widespread speculation about his health and doubts that he has the strength to run the country for another five years, his political party, the National Liberation Front, has insisted he will run again.
Other serious contenders for the powerful presidency have withheld announcing their candidacies pending on whether Bouteflika will run.
Oil-rich Algeria is a key partner in the fight against terrorism and possesses one of the region's most powerful militaries.
The president's illness comes at a time when al-Qaida and its allied extremist groups have been more active along Algeria's borders, including to the south in Mali and the east in Libya.