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Bouteflika Returns to Algeria Amid Protests

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An Algerian government Gulfstream plane takes off from Cointrin airport in Geneva, Switzerland, March 10, 2019.

Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika landed in Algeria Sunday amid protests against his bid for a fifth term as president.

Bouteflika, 82, has been in Geneva for two weeks, receiving what his office called routine medical checks. But many have speculated that the health of the longtime president, who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, is far more serious.

An Algerian government plane, hidden from view in a hangar, was reported to have left Geneva around 1500 GMT. The Algerian government did not immediately announce the purpose of the flight, which landed in Geneva earlier Sunday.

Protests against Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term entered their third week on Friday, with thousands flooding the streets in Algeria as well as Paris, which is home to a large Algerian immigrant population.

Bouteflika, who has ruled the North African country since 1999, officially filed paperwork to run for a fifth term last week, but vowed that if he won he would only serve for one year before holding new elections.

Bouteflika warned Thursday that instigators may try to infiltrate the demonstrations to provoke turmoil ahead of the April 18 election. "We must call for vigilance and caution in case this peaceful expression is infiltrated by some insidious party... which could cause chaos," he said.

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