Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will run for a fourth term in April's election, his office said on Saturday in comments carried by national television.

The president has informed the interior ministry of his intention to run in the April 17 poll and has collected appropriate documents, the television quoted Bouteflika's office as saying.

The electoral law requires candidates to gather at least 60,000 signatures from supporters across no fewer than 25 provinces by midnight on March 4, and the documents will be used to that end.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said Bouteflika made his decision in "response to the encouragement of citizens from all over the country." 

Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke last year, has not made any public address since returning home from hospital, has only received a few foreign dignitaries and chaired just two cabinet meetings.

The comments from his premier and ally Sellal were the clearest indication so far on his intentions before mid-April elections in the North African oil producer.

There has been growing speculation in Algiers that the president, who has ruled the North African oil producer since 1999, will make an announcement on his future within days.

A veteran of the independence war against France, the 76-year-old leader has the backing of the ruling National Liberation Front party and is expected to win easily if he runs.

Bouteflika loyalists see him as the man who delivered peace and economic stability after a civil war with Islamists in the 1990s. But critics say he should step aside for health reasons.

More than 80 people have said they will run for presidency, with the most serious challenger among them appearing to be Ali Benflis, known as a defender of human rights and popular with intellectuals.

Benflis, 69, was prime minister during Bouteflika's first term in office and ran against him in 2004.