Tebboune makes first appearance since being flown to Germany

Long absence of Algerian President, who has been battling COVID-19 since October, recalls lengthy disappearances from public view of his predecessor.

ALGIERS - Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune made his first appearance on Sunday since being flown to a hospital in Germany 47 days ago after testing positive for coronavirus, saying he is recovering and will be back home soon.

Tebboune, 75, appeared in a video posted on Twitter and broadcast on state television. He said he is expected to make a complete recovery within three weeks at the latest.

"I'm recovering...I will recover my physical capacities in a week, two weeks or three weeks," he said. "We will soon be in the country to continue building a new Algeria."

Elected in December last year to succeed Abdelaziz Bouteflika who resigned after mass protests, Tebboune has promised to carry out political and economic reforms in the North African country, an OPEC member.

Early last month, Algerians approved changes to the constitution aimed at giving more powers to the parliament and prime minister as well as boosting political freedoms, although voter turnout was very low.

Tebboune said he had asked his staff at the presidency to coordinate with the election authority to prepare for a new election law, adding this law would pave the way for the post-constitution period.

"I have been following what is taking place in Algeria on a daily basis," he said.

Since taking office Tebboune has announced plans to reform the economy and diversify it away from oil and gas, seeking to ease financial pressure caused by a fall in energy revenue - which accounts for 60% of the state budget and 94% of total export revenue.

Saturday marked the anniversary of his first year in office.

The long absence of the head of state, who also serves Algeria's defense chief, recalled the lengthy disappearances from public view of his predecessor, Bouteflika, for treatment in France of a stroke in 2013 and later in Switzerland for numerous medical check-ups, with lots of speculation and little information on his whereabouts or health.

Bouteflika rarely appeared in public but kept ruling. He was forced to abandon his bid for a fifth term last year before being pushed from office under pressure from street protests and the powerful army.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad has been in charge during Tebboune’s absence as the country struggles with an economy made worse by the coronavirus and other issues.