Algeria to Hold Presidential Election on April 18
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika issued a decree on Friday calling a much anticipated presidential election for April 18 but without saying whether he would stand as a candidate.
The ailing 81-year-old has been in office since 1999 and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, leaving him wheelchair-bound. Algeria's ruling coalition has previously urged him to run again for the presidency.
Despite his advanced age and poor health, there have been calls from his supporters for him to stand for a fifth term but he has yet to make his intentions clear.
By law, would-be candidates now have until March 4 to register with the constitutional court.
Uncertainty over whether Bouteflika will stand for re-election has frozen Algerian politics for months.
No candidate of note has thrown his or her hat into the ring while the president's intentions remain in doubt.
For the last presidential election in 2014, Bouteflika left it until just days before the deadline to register.
The North African country, an oil producer, avoided the major political upheaval seen in many other Arab countries in the past decade but has experienced some protests and strikes. Unemployment, especially among young people, remains high.
The economy has improved over the past year as oil and gas revenues have picked up. They account for 60 percent of the budget and 94 percent of export revenues.