Algerians attend a gathering organized by political parties calling for the boycott of Algeria's April 17 presidential election, in the capital Algiers on March 21, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/FAROUK BATICHE)
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Algerian opposition parties rallied several thousand supporters on Friday to call for a boycott of next month's election and to reject President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's run for another term after 15 years in power.Bouteflika, the 77-year-old veteran of Algeria's independence war, registered for the April 17 ballot despite suffering a stroke last year that opponents say has left him unfit to govern for another five years.After the Arab Spring uprisings across North Africa in 2011, Bouteflika ordered heavy spending from Algeria's oil earnings on housing, public services and other basic infrastructure to counter any social unrest.The election and any potential transition in the OPEC member will be closely watched by Western powers who have relied on Bouteflika as a close ally in their campaign against Islamist militancy in the Maghreb.Bouteflika's rare public appearances have generated opposition doubts about how he will campaign, how he will govern if he is still recovering, and what happens if he is forced to step down after winning the election.
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