In power for 20 years; Algeria’s 81-year-old and ailing President Bouteflika makes bid for 5th term

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Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said on Sunday he would seek a fifth term in a presidential election set for April 18, the state news agency APS reported on Sunday, putting an end to months of uncertainty caused by his poor health.



The veteran leader has been weak since suffering the 2013 stroke, which diminished his mobility and forced him to work from his residence in Zeralda, west of the capital Algiers.

He has since travelled abroad several times to undergo medical treatment in France and Switzerland. The president only makes rare public appearances, during which he is usually seen sitting in a wheelchair.



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Rumours often swirl in Algeria about the state of the president’s health.
First elected in 1999, Bouteflika is Algeria’s longest serving leader since the former French colony won independence in 1962. The 81-year-old president, who rarely has been seen in public since he was partially paralysed by a stroke five years ago



He insisted his “unwavering desire” to serve Algeria allowed him to “transcend the constraints of health concerns”.
He is confined to a wheelchair and has cancelled recent official meetings.
Mr Bouteflika’s last meeting with a senior foreign official was during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in September. An earlier meeting with her had been cancelled.

Ho



wever, Mr Bouteflika is widely expected to win the April election, says BBC Arabic’s Ahmed Rouaba.
Algeria is a key gas supplier to Europe and an ally of the United States in the fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel region of North Africa.



According to Reuters, Bouteflika remains popular with many Algerians, who credit him with ending the country’s long civil war by offering an amnesty to former Islamist fighters.

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