Algeria's opposition calls for new presidential elections due to leader's illness

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A coalition of Algerian opposition parties and political figures has called for new presidential elections because of the continued hospitalizations of the country's leader.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 77, was elected to a fourth term in April, but he has rarely appeared in public since suffering from a stroke in 2013. He was briefly hospitalized in France last weekend.

Tuesday's opposition statement said the leader's absence is a sign of the "serious crisis in the country."

The coalition, which includes Islamist and secular opposition parties, and former government ministers, also called for an independent commission to oversee elections.

The government has in the past ignored opposition claims the president is too ill to govern.

The oil-rich North Africa country is a key U.S. ally in the fight against extremists.