Algeria president calls off meeting with Saudi crown prince

Algeria president calls off meeting with Saudi crown prince
2 min read
03 December, 2018
The Saudi crown prince left Algeria without meeting with the country's leader on Monday after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika cancelled, reportedly due to 'ill-health'.
The Saudi crown prince left Algeria without meeting with the president [Getty]
Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika called off a meeting with visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday because of ill health, the national news agency APS reported.

It said the 81-year-old president, whose health has been fragile since he suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public, was "in bed with a heavy flu".

Prince Mohammed, more commonly known as MbS, who has been making his first foreign tour since the 2 October murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, held talks instead with Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, Algeria's presidency said.

The visit would focus on "partnerships and investment projects", the Algerian presidency said before the prince arrived in Algiers late on Sunday on a flight from Mauritania.

Like a previous stop in Tunis, the crown prince's visit has drawn criticism from political and academic circles in Algeria over the Saudi-led war in Yemen and Washington Post columnist Khashoggi's grisly murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

It was jointly denounced by 17 intellectuals, journalists, Muslim scholars and other figures in the North African country, in a statement obtained by AFP.

They said the "whole world is certain that he ordered a terrible crime against the journalist Jamal Khashoggi".

Political parties also expressed opposition to the visit, among them the Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP) opposition party.

It said MbS was "responsible for the death of a large number of children and civilians in Yemen" as well as that of Khashoggi.

Louisa Hanoune, head of the opposition Workers' Party (PT), described his visit as a "provocation".

Abderrazak Makri, head of the Islamist Movement of Society for Peace, told reporters the crown prince's visit "does not serve Algeria's image nor its reputation". 

Among the signatories were writer and journalist Kamel Daoud and prominent novelist Rachid Boudjedra.

Khashoggi's killing has put mounting pressure on Riyadh and MbS, who Turkish officials - and reportedly the CIA - have concluded was behind the critic's death.

Saudi authorities have vehemently denied the crown prince was involved in the murder, although Riyadh has admitted he was killed at the Istanbul consulate. 

MbS has in recent days travelled to the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia, before heading to Buenos Aires on Wednesday for the G20 summit.

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