Africa 9.4.2018 05:06 pm

Algeria’s Bouteflika makes rare public appearance

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

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

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika made a rare public appearance Monday for the inauguration of a mosque and the extension of the Algiers metro, footage broadcast on public television showed.

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.

Bouteflika 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.

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

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

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.

President Bouteflika 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, Bouteflika has rarely appeared in public in recent years and his health is the subject of regular speculation.

His appearance comes as the secretary general of the National Liberation Front (FLN), DJamel Ould Abbes, asked 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 Bouteflika is the honorary president.

 

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