The main ally of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s ruling party said Thursday it hoped the ailing incumbent would seek a fifth term in office in April polls.
The National Rally for Democracy (RND) “looks forward to the announcement of the candidacy” of Bouteflika, party chief and Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said.
In power since 1999, 81-year-old Bouteflika uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since a stroke in 2013. The head of state has not yet confirmed whether he will seek a new mandate.
“For some, the future is in change for change’s sake. For us at the RND, the future is in continuity,” said Ouyahia, at the opening of his party’s national council.
Ouyahia, Bouteflika’s prime minister since 2003, said the past five years had laid the groundwork for a “promising future”.
Presidential candidates have until March 3 at midnight (2300 GMT) to submit their application.
In an interview with TSA Arabi, the Arabic version of a leading Algerian media outlet, RND spokesman Seddik Chihab said Bouteflika would “probably” announce his decision in early February.
He also brushed aside concerns over the president’s health, saying it posed no obstacle to another term.
“We all know that President Bouteflika’s state of health isn’t the same as it was in previous elections, but since 2014, we have not noticed that his illness was an obstacle in fulfilling his constitutional prerogatives,” he said.
The head of Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front has said the president would be the party’s candidate in the upcoming poll.
Bouteflika last appeared in public on November 1 and then on state television on December 27 at a cabinet meeting.