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Algerian Cabinet reshuffle strengthens ailing president's grip on power before April elections

Algeria's president has reshuffled the Cabinet, making changing in key ministries, including defense, foreign affairs and the interior.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika spent 80 days convalescing in Paris after a stroke and has made only brief appearances since his July return. He had been expected to contend in April's elections.

Tayeb Belaiz, head of the constitutional council, was named Wednesday as interior minister, which is responsible for security.

Army chief of staff Ahmed Gaid Salah, who has often appeared with the 76-year-old Bouteflika since his illness, was made vice-minister of defense. The president is the actual minister.

Power in Algeria lies in the hands of the president and powerful military and security chiefs. Analysts expect a struggle before April's elections if Bouteflika is too ill to run again.

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