Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sacked his veteran campaign manager Saturday, state media reported, following mass protests against the ailing leader’s decision to stand for a fifth term in office.
Former premier Abdelmalek Sellal — who oversaw President Bouteflika’s past three successful re-election bids — was removed just hours ahead of a deadline for election hopefuls to formally submit their candidacy.
Sellal was replaced as campaign manager by Abdelghani Zaalene, the transport minister, APS news agency said, citing Bouteflika’s campaign team.
While no reason was given for the decision, it comes after tens of thousands of Algerians protested Friday against the 82-year-old president standing for re-election.
President Bouteflika, rarely seen in public since a 2013 stroke, has been in Switzerland for nearly a week for “routine medical checks” according to his office.
There is no legal requirement for election contenders to be in the country on Sunday to meet the midnight (2300 GMT) deadline to submit their candidacy for the April 18 vote.