Algiers (AFP) – Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, largely unseen for months because of health problems, presided over a cabinet meeting Sunday for the first time this year, media said.
The 76-year-old, in power since 1999, presided over a cabinet he had reshuffled earlier this month, which has already approved seven draft laws, including the 2014 budget, the APS news agency reported.
The sweeping cabinet changes -- in which Bouteflika replaced a third of ministers -- along with a rumoured purge of the military intelligence services, have stoked speculation that he will seek re-election in 2014 or an extension of his current term.
Bouteflika returned home in July after nearly three months in France recovering from a mini-stroke, and critics have said his health concerns should rule out an extension of his time in office.
But the president's allies have indicated they would back him should he seek re-election next year or an extension of his term by two years through a constitutional amendment similar to one in 2008 that paved the way for his third term.
One of the few remaining veterans of the war of independence against France, Bouteflika came to power in 1999 after helping to end the country's civil war.
But in recent years his rule has been dogged by ill health and corruption scandals implicating members of his inner circle.