A substantial number of African countries are virtually paralyzed politically, and even threatened with instability due to the inadequate health of their president. A rare phenomenon – a third of African heads of state is over 70 – illustrated by the last minute cancellation on Monday of the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Algiers. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was “temporarily unavailable” due to bronchitis. He has virtually no longer left his medical home in Zeralda since 2014.
The Bouteflika case not unique
If his health gets attention well beyond Algeria, he is far from being the only African leader forced to leave the management of the country to an opaque cenacle. Appearances of Cameroon’s president, Biya, 83, are rare. He stayed one month in Switzerland in 2015, officially to “meet investors” and suffer from cancer. The Ivorian president, Alassane Ouattara , 72 years old, left a Parisian hospital a week ago. It is also in Paris that the president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, 72, was hospitalized very recently. He had already made a discomfort in November in Morocco, was not seen in public for 15 days in January, and was not able to receive on Wednesday the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI. The president of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, 74, will give up power this summer, officially because of sciatica.
I was dead indeed, but I have just resurrected.
African authorities generally react by the omerta, or releases on “benign” operations and “routine medical check-ups”, and photos of rare official interviews. This aggravates the rumors in the population or the media. The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni , is said to have been sick with AIDS for 12 years and Chad, Idriss Deby, of cancer since 2003. After the announcement of his death, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Declared ” I was dead indeed, but I just resurrected” . At the head of the executive for 37 years, and despite prostate cancer according to Wikileaks, he wants to succeed himself in 2018. He will be only 94 years old.
In London for “indefinite”
The rumor mill also runs full in Nigeria, due to the stay in London for a month of President Muhammadu Buhari. He will remain there for an indefinite period “following medical tests ,” said Tuesday his spokesman. But unlike the other countries, the interim is transparent and effective, assured by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo in accordance with the Constitution. An interim that could, paradoxically, prove to be more dynamic than the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari , nicknamed “baba go slow” and which in two years took almost no major decision, apart from the devaluation of the naira. ” Business life is not at all disrupted by the absence of the president, ” said Serge Blanchard, consultant specialist of Nigeria, especially since Yemi Osinbajo ” is much more attentive to economic issues than Muhammadu Buhari “
A total of 17 out of 54 African heads of state are over 70 years of age, four of them over 80, largely due to the scarcity of democratic alternatives. Of these 17 seven-eighties, eight have been in power for more than 15 years, all in politically locked countries. And of the fifteen heads of state that have been in office for the longest time in the world – more than 25 years – all are African, except the Kazakh President, the Emperor of Japan, the Sultan of Brunei and the Queen of England.