The Latest: Plane with Algerian leader takes off from Geneva


ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — The Latest on Algeria’s president (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has landed at a military airport south of the capital and quickly departed in a convoy after spending two weeks in a Swiss hospital.

The arrival of the 82-year-old Bouteflika comes amid massive demonstrations demanding he withdraw his candidacy for a fifth term as president.

Bouteflika suffered a stroke in 2013 and has rarely been seen in public since. The decision to run for a new term in the April 18 election angered large swathes of Algerian society.

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Bouteflika arrived at Boufarik military south about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of the capital, and was shown in video by private television station Ennahar in a convoy heading toward Algiers. He could be seen inside a car slightly bent over and with a cap on his head.

Bouteflika resides in the Algiers suburb of Zeralda, not in the presidential palace in the capital.


4:05 p.m.

An Algerian government plane believed to be carrying President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has taken off from Geneva airport after about two weeks of medical treatment in Switzerland.

Bouteflika is believed to be returning home to Algeria, where massive demonstrations against his rule have taken place over the past few weeks.

The 82-year-old Bouteflika suffered a stroke in 2013 and he is seeking a fifth term in an April election, a move that has angered many Algerians.

The plane, which was hidden from view in a hangar, taxied onto the runway at Geneva airport as a rainbow came into view over the airport.


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2:20 p.m.

The top Algerian party backing beleaguered President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has broken its silence over massive demonstrations demanding the end of the regime, saying it’s ready to work with all parties to end the crisis.

The National Liberation Front, or FLN, said in a statement Sunday that it wants to find a way out of the crisis “with the least cost to the country.”

In a sign that powers-that-be may be ready for concessions, the statement praised the protest movement as a source of national pride.

Peaceful marches began Feb. 22. Calls for a general strike on Sunday were being heeded by many, with shops on major avenues in Algiers closed.

The 82-year-old Bouteflika suffered a stroke in 2013 and has been in a Geneva hospital for two weeks.

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