Algeria’s 81-year-old president has till March 4 to declare interest in running for a fifth consecutive term

Algeria is set to hold a presidential election on April 18, 2029, however, it is unclear whether President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s frail 81-year-old president who has been in power since 1999, will stand for a fifth consecutive term.

In October 2018, Djamel Ould Abbes, who was still the chief of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) stated that “Bouteflika is the candidate of the FLN for the presidential election.” Adding that, “Bouteflika’s candidacy has been demanded by all the FLN cadres and activists across the country.” Unfortunately, Abbes was sacked in November, leaving the country in uncertainty as to whether the President will seek re-election.

The 81-year-old President, who is also the minister of defence, has been in office since 1999 and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke that confined him to a wheelchair since 2013. The incumbent last addressed the nation more than six years ago but still contested the election in 2014, and won with a whopping 87 percent vote even though he hardly campaigned.

Following the ongoing challenges in Libya, many Algerians, most of whom are under 25, have repeatedly chosen peace and stability over political reform by re-electing the president. However, the Northern African country has experienced strikes and protests in recent years.

Candidates have 45 days to inform the constitutional council of their intention to take part. Should Bouteflika indicate interest and eventually wins, he will be 87 years old by the time Algeria’s following elections are held. However, if Bouteflika decides not to run for the April 18 election, Algerian third-party observers expect that the same bloc would remain in power.

According to observers, the next president will likely be chosen from a score of candidates running for the election. Candidates like Ahmed Ouyahia- a member of parliament, Abdelmalek Sellal- former member of parliament and the country’s Energy Minister, Chakib Khelil. Some others have speculated that the country’s Vice Minister of Defense, Ahmed Gaid Salah, might become the next head of state.