Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been running the country since 1999 and is its longest-serving president. But his re-election bid for April's presidential run has prompted thousands to take to the streets and demonstrate.

Despite massive protests over 20 years in power, Bouteflika announced that he will run in April's elections, yet he says will organise an early election, which he promises not to contest, afterwards if he is re-elected.

He has been suffering from health issues for almost seven years and his condition remains unknown amid peaceful protests. He rarely made a public appearance since then. 

Here is the most influential character of Algerian politics for last two decades.

Bouteflika's early years

Abdelaziz Bouteflika was born on 2 March 1937 in Oujda, Morocco, where he continued his education until high school. After high school, he joined the Algerian Liberation Army (ALN), and very soon he got promotion.

Bouteflika was 19-year-old when he joined the ALN which was a military branch of the National Liberation Front (FLN). Between 1957-1958 he served as a controller of the Wilaya and reported the conditions at the Moroccan border and in west Algeria then he became the administrative secretary of Houari Boumediene, chairman of the Revolutionary Council of Algeria. 

Later on, he appeared as one of the closest collaborators of the influential Boumedienne, and a core member of his Oujda group. 

Bouteflika, a veteran of the war of independence from France, has served as foreign minister for 16 years until 1979.

For several years, he went into self-imposed exile in the 1980s in order to escape corruption charges. The charges, later on, were dropped.

Political career of Bouteflika 

 When he first won in the presidential elections in 1999 polls, Bouteflika promised to end years of bloodbath and rebuild national harmony in Algeria.

As he became the ruler, many people respected him for his role in ending a long civil war that left nearly 200.000 people dead. 

The following years, he secured landslide election victories in 2004 and again 2009. In the 2014 elections, the opposition secularist RCD movement, Islamist parties, MSP and Ennahda, called for a boycott of a vote they believe will not be fair with Bouteflika running.

Back then, the oppositions were concerned about Bouteflika's ability to run the country by citing his health problems, which is still a question today. They also said that he should make way for a new generation who wanted to reform Algeria they say has been run behind-the-scenes. 

He first had a stroke in 2013, which sent him to a Paris hospital. He is seeking the fifth term in the office despite years of ill health. 

The Algerian President seek the fifth term in the office. He announced in a televised letter that he will step down after one year if he will be re-elected in April's election. By his announcement, he seeks to ease the protesters, who took streets and demand his go.

Half of Algeria population is under 30 and many young people struggle to find jobs in the country. 

"I pledge not to be a candidate in that election which will ensure I am succeeded in undeniable conditions of serenity, freedom and transparency," the letter read.

It goes saying: "I listened and heard the cry from the hearts of protesters and in particular the thousands of young people who questioned me about the future of our homeland."