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Algeria President Bouteflika to stand for fourth term

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will run for a fourth term in April's election, according to the country's prime minister. Bouteflika has been in power for 15 years and suffered a mini-stroke last year.

The announcement of Bouteflika's candidacy came from the state news agency APS. It confirmed that the 76-year-old Bouteflika had officially notified the Interior Ministry of his candidacy for the April 17 election. It was the one formality he had to complete to run for a fourth, five-year term.

Speaking on Saturday, in the western city of Oran Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal confirmed the news: "Bouteflika will be a candidate," he said. "Bouteflika's decision to run comes at the insistence of the people and after some deep reflection."

The president has not, himself, addressed the nation since suffering the stroke last April which kept him confined to a Paris hospital for three months. His party, the National Liberation Front (FLN) has ruled Algeria for nearly three decades while the army has long been considered the shadow power behind the Algerian presidency.

In an apparent reference to Bouteflika's health, Sellal said: "He does not need to campaign himself, there are men who can campaign for him."

Some senior members of the military have reportedly opposed a fourth term for Bouteflika. Earlier this month, a retired senior general urged Bouteflika to step down "with dignity" and not stand for reelection. Algeria's military and intelligence leaders have played a key role in the country's politics since the war for independence from France in 1962. Bouteflika is one of the few remaining veterans of the war.

In recent years, the president has tried to check the influence of the chief of the DRS military intelligence agency.

But in a speech read by a minister on his behalf last week, Bouteflika denied that divisions existed between the military and the intelligence services: "The fictitious conflict... within the ranks of the People's National Army is linked to a destabilization plan developed by those troubled by Algeria's regional weight and influence," he said in the comments published by state media. No detail was offered on the nature of the destabilizing activities.

The North African nation is the largest by size on the continent, is rich in gas and oil and a key ally of the West.

jm/rc (Reuters, AP, AFP)