Algeria’s ailing leader makes rare public appearance

May 15, 2018
A crowd cheers Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sitting, front, in a car on his way to visit the Belkaidia mosque in Tixeraine outside Algiers, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Bouteflika later visited the building site of the future Algiers Grand Mosque. (AP Photo)

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s president has visited the construction site of the future Great Mosque in Algiers, in a rare public appearance of the 81-year-old ailing leader.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been debilitated by a stroke for years, appeared in television footage in a wheelchair Tuesday.

After praying at a mosque belonging to a religious brotherhood outside the capital, Bouteflika visited the gigantic construction site of the Great Mosque.

The presidential project has been criticized for its cost of more than $1.6 billion, considered excessive for the North African country.

Algeria’s FLN governing party is urging Bouteflika to seek a fifth term in next year’s presidential election despite his frail health and growing doubts about his ability to lead the oil-and-gas-rich country, the largest in Africa.