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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Algerian president makes rare public appearance

Abdelaziz Bouteflika attended event days after party urged him to seek fifth term

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen in Algiers, Algeria April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina - RC1C589131D0
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen in Algiers, Algeria April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina - RC1C589131D0

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has made a rare public appearance, just 48 hours after his party urged the ageing leader to seek another term in office.

In a wheelchair and wearing a three-piece suit, the 81-year-old head of state unveiled an inaugural plaque at the entrance of the capital's Ketchaoua mosque, which reopened after three years of renovation, on Monday.

He waved with his right hand to the crowd awaiting his arrival in front of the mosque, closed since 2008 and then damaged by a powerful earthquake five years ago, pictures broadcast on public television showed.

The mosque, converted into a church during France's colonial rule, was renovated after seven million euros ($8.6 million) in Turkish government funding.

The building's Ottoman roots make it an importance piece of heritage for Turkey.

President Bouteflika later inaugurated an extension of the Algiers metro linking the capital's central post office to the emblematic Martyrs Square in the heart of its Old City.

Algeria's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's public appearances have become rare since 2013. Louafi Larbi / Reuters File
Algeria's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's public appearances have become rare since 2013. Louafi Larbi / Reuters File

He was elected for a fourth term in 2014, a year after a stroke landed him in a Paris hospital for more than two months.

Algeria's leader for nearly two decades, he has seldom appeared in public in recent years and his health is the subject of regular speculation.

The secretary general of the National Liberation Front (FLN), DJamel Ould Abbes, has asked President Bouteflika to run for a fifth term as head of state in presidential polls set for 2019.

The request was made Saturday at a meeting of ministers and members of parliament from the FLN, a party of which the president is the honorary leader.

No other presidential candidates have emerged because they are waiting to see whether the incumbent will run.

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