Today, as we go to press — after spending another month in Germany, following his two months hospitalisation there between late October and late December — there is the first news of President Abdelmajid Tebboune’s health. According to sources close to the Presidency he is expected home on Friday 12 February. He is therefore returning to Algeria a week before the second anniversary of 19 February 2019 start of Hirak. Unsurprisingly, there is considerable tension in the air.
We believe that Tebboune’s more than three months out of the country is longer than President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s overseas medical sojourns. However, in the last week or so, domestic media sleuths have begun to compile a picture of just how much his stays in Germany might have cost the Treasury. The total bill is obviously unknown and cannot yet be accurately estimated but is clearly many millions of Euros.
Although it is likely to be denied and simply brushed under the carpet by the Presidency and the government, some of the detail are as follows:
The bill for the stay of Tebboune and his large entourage in some of the most prestigious hotels was reportedly averaging €48,000 a day which, given that he has now spent around 90 days in Germany, totals around €4.5 million. This, however, excludes what will undoubtedly be very expensive medical and hospital costs.
Tebboune is apparently accompanied by at least 16 people, including two teams of bodyguards who are accommodated and supported in Germany, with one team always staying in the same place as the president and the second at another nearby Berlin hotel. Since leaving hospital Tebboune is reportedly staying at one luxury hotel with an entire floor having been rented and fitted out for Tebboune’s well-being and safety.
In addition, there are regular trips to and from Germany by his family. During his initial stay in October, his wife and two of his sons accompanied him and stayed in Germany at the public expense. Travel on the presidential the plane between Algiers and Berlin costs an average of €16,000 for each round trip and the presidential plane ferried several Algerian delegations to Germany to visit Tebboune in Cologne and then in Berlin.
During his second stay in Germany, starting on 10 January, Tebboune has been accompanied by one of his sons with all expenses being covered by the budget for the Presidential Palace of El-Mouradia.
As for all the medical costs, at some of the world’s best hospitals, they cannot yet be even estimated. But, to quote several social media bloggers, ‘Poor Algeria.’