Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front said Saturday it had picked ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as its candidate for April’s election.

“The FLN has designated President Bouteflika as the party’s candidate,” said its coordinator Mouad Bouchareb, using the group’s French acronym.

Bouchareb spoke in front of thousands gathered in the capital Algiers for a pre-campaign meeting.

The declaration came a week after the ruling coalition — comprised of the FLN and three other parties — backed Bouteflika for the April 18 poll.

In power since 1999, 81-year-old Bouteflika uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since a stroke in 2013.

He has yet to announce whether or not he will run in the poll, but victory at the ballot box would translate into a fifth term.

Presidential candidates have until March 3 at midnight (2300 GMT) to submit their applications. 

For the last presidential election in 2014, Bouteflika only declared his intention to run a few days ahead of the deadline.

Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said on February 2 “there is no doubt” the president would seek a fifth term. 

Ouyahia has said Bouteflika’s health was not “an obstacle” to performing presidential duties. 

Retired general Ali Ghediri, 64, was the first to announce his candidacy after the presidency set the election date.

Algeria’s main Islamist party, the Movement for the Society of Peace, will also take part in the poll, backing its candidate Dr Abderrazak Makri.

The country’s oldest opposition party, the Front of Socialist Forces, announced on January 25 that it would not field a candidate and called for an “active, intensive and peaceful boycott” of the ballot.