Algerian government plane heads north, destination unclear

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika casts his ballot during the parliamentary election in Algiers, Algeria, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) – The Algerian government plane that brought President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to Geneva for medical treatment last month left Algerian airspace and headed north early on Sunday, flight radar applications showed.

The ailing 82-year-old Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, and his bid to extend his 20-year rule has prompted tens of thousands of Algerians to join the biggest protests in Algiers in 28 years.

The Gulfstream 4SP, registration 7T-VPM, had not been tracked leaving Algeria since Algerian authorities announced in February that Bouteflika had travelled to the Swiss city for unspecified medical checks.

The plane, one of several executive jets owned by the Algerian government, left Algiers just before 0700 GMT on Sunday.

Algerian authorities have declined to discuss Bouteflika’s health or his whereabouts, and hospital authorities at Geneva University Hospital, where he has been receiving treatment, have declined to comment.

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