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The prank caller said four pizzas had already been delivered
The exact whereabouts of Algeria’s ailing president are not clear, but a report on a French TV channel with secret footage suggested that Abdelaziz Bouteflika may be at the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) – and as a result the Swiss institution has been inundated with calls.
One caller suggested he had been delivering pizzas for the 82-year-old leader but had not been paid, the hospital spokesman Nicolas de Saussure told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.
He said the sudden rise in calls began on Tuesday:
” Many of them coming from Algeria, some of from France, some from Switzerland – with mainly one question: can the hospital confirm that President Bouteflika is hospitalised in our institution; and the second question: what is the state of his health.
“We’ve had a few humourist phone calls, some with threats – but these are very minor. We’ve had one person saying that he had been ordered [to deliver] four pizzas for a certain care unit of the hospital and that he had not been paid for them, and that a fifth pizza had been ordered and he did not want to deliver it until the payment of the fourth was made.”
Mr de Saussure went on to say that HUG could not “confirm or contradict the presence of the president in our hospital” and it would never give out any information about patients or about their health.
He suggested that people should find some other form of protest.
Big demonstrations are expected in the North Africa nation on Friday against Mr Bouteflika’s decision to run for a fifth term in office in elections next month.
The octogenarian is rarely seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013 and the Algerian authorities say he was transferred to a hospital in Switzerland, without specifying which institution, on 24 February for routine medical checks.