- Algeria's opposition has criticised president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's plans on constitutional reforms to abolish term limit in office in Africa's oil- and gas-rich nation.
Mr Bouteflika said in a speech broadcast from Algeria's supreme court that he wants to bring "stability, efficiency and continuity to the oil- and gas-rich nation, which is rattled by an Islamic insurgency with ties to al-Qaeda.
The 71-year-old leader, reaching end of his second and final term, said he wanted to alter basic law to strengthen people's power to choose their leaders, although he did not explain further.
Mr Bouteflika critics said the move is a step away from democracy, and favours political and military elites that have long held power in North African country to cling on to power.
Some critics said such a move would be a blow to fragile political climate in the country of 34 million, still searching for stability after an undeclared civil war in the 1990s in which more than 150,000 people were killed.
But loyal supporters to president, credit him for being a unifying figure who ended a decade-long civil war between the army backed, government and Islamists that killed millions in the 1990s.
Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said amendment would probably be enacted by parliament and senate before end of November, ahead of a presidential election expected in April 2009.
"We fully support the president's decision to let the people chose their leader freely," said Abdesselam Bouchareb, chief of staff for Prime Minister Ouyahia's party.
Mr Bouteflika became president in 1999, replacing Gen Liamine Zeroual after a brash political campaign tarnished by fraud charges that drove his six rivals to pull out on the eve of the vote.
He was re-elected by a landslide in 2004 to serve five more years. International observers hailed that election as one of the Arab world's best, despite persistent allegations of corruption and democratic abuses.
His proposed reform would be sixth constitutional change since independence. The current constitution took effect in 1996 after army canceled the 1992 legislative elections that an Islamist party was poised to win.
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