Algeria profile

President: Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Abdelaziz Bouteflika President Bouteflika plans to run for re-election in April 2014

Abdelaziz Bouteflika won the presidency in the 1999 polls and secured landslide election victories in 2004 and again 2009.

The government announced that he will be standing for a fourth term in elections in April 2014, prompting some opposition figures to announce a boycott of the polls.

Citing concerns over his health, they say he is incapable of running the country.

In 2013 he suffered a stroke and spent four months in Paris and has seldom been seen in public since.

He took office when Algeria was still caught up in a savage civil war with Islamist insurgents and has been credited by supporters of curbing the conflict and restoring economic stability.

'Setback for reform'

After having amended the constitution to remove the two-term limit on the presidency in November 2008, Mr Bouteflika has effectively allowed himself to remain head of state for life - changes criticised as a setback for democratic reform.

As in many Arabic-speaking countries, the government faced calls for democratic change in 2011, but protests did not reach the scale seen elsewhere. Nonetheless Mr Bouteflika announced a programme of constitutional change to avert pressure for more radical reform.

On first taking office in 1999 he promised to restore national harmony and to end years of bloodshed. He released thousands of Muslim militants and won backing for a civil concord in 1999 that offered an amnesty to armed militants.

Many of the rebels accepted and violence declined. Voters backed a second amnesty for the remaining militants, laid out in the president's "charter for peace and reconciliation", in a 2005 referendum.

Renewed Islamist action

Algeria under President Bouteflika has won praise from the West for backing the US-led "war on terror". At home, many credited him with a return of some security, though attacks by Islamist militants have increased again since 2006.

Mr Bouteflika has overcome years of isolation for Algeria, but his state-orientated economic policies have failed to wean the economy off reliance on oil and gas.

A veteran of the war of independence from France, Mr Bouteflika was foreign minister for 16 years until 1979. He went into self-imposed exile for several years in the 1980s to escape corruption charges that were later dropped.

He is seen as one of the last major figures still active from the war of independence from France. April's election had been seen as a chance of passing power to a new generation.

Power is concentrated in the presidency, with parliament considered a rubber-stamp body. Mr Bouteflika is widely credited with easing the military back into barracks after their domination of government during the 1992-2011 state of emergency.

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