ALGIERS: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the aging independence veteran who suffered a stroke last year, will run in April’s election, the government said Saturday, in a vote likely to hand him a fourth term in power.
Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal’s announcement appeared to end months of speculation over Bouteflika’s future after his trips to Paris for treatment in the last year intensified talk of a succession after his 15 years in office.
Sellal said Bouteflika, who opponents believe is too frail to govern, had decided to run, and state news agency reported that he had already formally registered his candidacy.
“Bouteflika will be a candidate,” Sellal said. “Bouteflika’s decision to run comes at the insistence of the people and after some deep reflection.”
The president himself did not appear. But state news agency APS said he had registered his candidacy with the Interior Ministry, 10 days before the March 4 deadline to do so.
Backed by the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) Party, unions and other FLN allies, Bouteflika, 76, is almost sure to be re-elected, with opposition candidates unlikely to offer a serious challenge.
Since his stroke put him in a Paris clinic last year, there was speculation about whether he was healthy enough to run.
Sellal said the president was in good health, and had all the “intellectual abilities and necessary vision,” APS reported.
“He does not need to campaign himself, there are men who can campaign for him,” Sellal said.