ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sacked a close aide on Tuesday and barred him from taking a job in any state institutions, in a move local media said pointed to infighting in the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN).
Under the unexpected move, the ailing Bouteflika, 77, also banned Abdelaziz Belkhadem, his special adviser, from activities within the FLN, the state news agency reported, citing a presidential statement.
The statement gave no reason for the president’s decision but local media speculated that Belkhadem had angered Bouteflika with comments seen as attempting to implicate him in a leadership struggle inside the FLN.
Belkhadem, a former prime minister and FLN leader, has repeatedly tried to remove the party’s current chief Amar Saadani.
The FLN, of which Bouteflika is the honorary president, and Algeria’s army have largely controlled the vast, energy-rich North African desert nation since independence in 1962.
Belkhadem and Saadani were among leading politicians who campaigned for Bouteflika in April and helped him win a fourth five-year term despite poor health after the president suffered a stroke last year.
Bouteflika commands broad backing in a country still traumatized by a decade-long war in the 1990s with armed Islamists that killed more than 200,000 people.
Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Gareth Jones