May 1, 2018 / 1:45 PM / 22 days ago

Algeria's biggest union urges Bouteflika to run for fifth term

HASSI MESSAOUD, Algeria (Reuters) - Algeria’s biggest union urged President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Tuesday to seek a fifth term in office in a further sign that the veteran leader will run in next year’s elections in the North African oil producer.

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika casts his ballot during the parliamentary election in Algiers, Algeria May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/Files

“I will deliver the request for a fifth term to Bouteflika’s interior minister so he can hand it to him,” Sidi Said, secretary general of the Union Generale des Travailleurs Algériens (UGTA), told a gathering of more than 2,000 workers.

The union has backed Bouteflika, 81, since he took office in 1999. His fourth term will end by the first half of 2019 when elections are expected.

The Algerian leader is rarely seen in public following a stroke in 2013 and he is wheelchair-bound.

But, though he has not declared his intention yet of running, speculation is mounting that he will seek a fifth term after he made a rare public appearance last month in the capital Algiers.

Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Richard Balmforth

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