Ailing Algerian president makes rare public appearance

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, left, listens to President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika, right, during their meeting in Algiers, Algeria, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Government Pool Photo via AP)

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s ailing president has made a rare public appearance amid renewed speculation about whether he is fit to run the country.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika met with visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday in images shown on Algerian television. It’s only the second time this year Bouteflika has been able to host a foreign leader.

Political parties have made public appeals recently to apply a constitutional measure to replace a president who is physically incapacitated. Opponents worry that Bouteflika’s entourage wants him to seek a fifth term in 2019 even though he has rarely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke.

Bouteflika helped reconcile Algeria after years of bloody Islamic insurgency, and his gas-dependent country is now struggling economically in part because of low world oil prices.