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Algeria's Bouteflika to seek re-election in 2019, party chief says

Frail president to stand for fifth term, head of party says, though candidacy not yet officially announced
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika casts his vote from wheelchair in Algiers last year in parliamentary elections (AFP/file photo)

Algeria's frail president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, will stand for a fifth term at elections next year, the head of his party said on Sunday.

National Liberation Front chief Djamel Ould Abbes said Bouteflika, 81, who suffered a stroke in 2013, would be the party's candidate in voting set for April 2019, state news agency APS reported.

"Bouteflika... is the candidate of the FLN for the presidential election," Ould Abbes was quoted as saying at a meeting with lawmakers from the party.

"His candidacy has been demanded by all the FLN cadres and activists across the country," he said. 

Bouteflika in 2008 scrapped constitutional rules limiting presidents to two terms in office and won a disputed election the next year with 90 percent of the vote.

Seen by many Algerians as the architect of the national reconciliation after the civil war (1992-2002), Bouteflika was re-elected again in 2014 with almost 82 percent of the vote in the first round, the Koz Post said.

The FLN central committee will meet soon to formalise the candidacy, Ould Abbes's chief of staff Nadir Boulegroune told AFP. 

Bouteflika has yet to announce his candidacy officially. 

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The veteran leader has been weak since suffering the 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 makes only rare public appearances, during which he is usually seen sitting in a wheelchair.

Rumours often swirl in Algeria about the state of the president's health.

Still, ahead of next year's presidential poll, Bouteflika's camp has for months been preparing the ground for him to claim a fresh term.

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