By AOMAR OUALI, Associated Press
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will run for a fourth term in April elections, the nation's prime minister said Saturday.
The official APS news agency quoted Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal as saying at a news conference in the western city of Oran that the 76-year-old Bouteflika will be a contender in the April 17 presidential vote.
Bouteflika has a huge contingent of supporters who have been pushing for him to declare his candidacy, notably his powerful party, the National Liberation Front which had ruled Algeria single-handedly for nearly three decades. But the president hasn't addressed the nation since a stroke last April.
Doubts have been raised about whether he is physically robust enough to get through another five-year term.
"I announce today the candidacy of the President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the presidential elections of April 17," Sellal said, according to APS.
The North African nation is the largest by size on the continent, rich in gas and oil and a key ally of the West in the fight against terrorism in the region.
Bouteflika is credited with helping to wind down a brutal insurgency by Islamic extremists, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which moved into Mali, a southern neighbor, then was uprooted last year in a French-led military intervention.
The announcement that Bouteflika would run again comes amid a huge, and highly unusual, scandal that has riven his party, known as the FLN, after its leader claimed divisions between the military and the intelligence services.
Bouteflika denied in a speech last week — read by a minister — that divisions existed.
The army has long been considered the shadow power behind the Algerian presidency. It has been unclear to what extent Bouteflika, the nation's first civilian president, is under the sway of the military.
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