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Abdelaziz Bouteflika – in office since 1999, making him Algeria’s longest-serving leader – disappeared from the public eye right after he was sworn in as President for the fourth time. Reports arriving from France reveal that during the dramatic hours of the execution of Hervé Gourdel by the Jund al-Khalifa militiamen, linked to ISIS, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was in contact with Paris.

Bouteflika supposedly didn’t preside over any meetings on the Ghardaia crisis, when clashes between Arab tribes and Berber militias of the Mozabite minority broke out. Reportedly, the 77-year old President, who is said to be dangerously ill, isn’t dealing directly with the rising tensions on the border with Morocco.

In Algiers, rumor has it that the power vacuum is palpable, and an unusual diplomatic delay stands out: dozens of Ambassadors have been waiting to present their credentials for some time now.

To deal with the situation, Bouteflika’s clan is supposedly gathering behind the President’s brother, Said.

Various operations that were carried out in the past few weeks can be traced back to this maneuver: General Athman ‘Bashir’ Tartag, already second-in-command of the intelligence, and former Minister Mohamed Benmeradi have been appointed advisors to the President. WikiLao’s sources revealed that Benmeradi “has in-depth knowledge of the economic and patrimonial affairs of Bouteflika and his family.”

In the meantime, the opposition is left without a strong leadership, as was proven by the lack of interest regarding the severe accusations made by Ali Benflis. Benflis, Prime Minister from 2000 to 2003 and two-times Presidential candidate, reported that Bouteflika’s power system is based on frauds. Nobody seems to have listened to his claims.

(Photo: REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina)

October 19, 2014