Algiers - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika launched a long-anticipated bid for a third term as head of state on Thursday.

"I announce my candidature as an independent," the 71-year-old Bouteflika told a crowd of cheering, flag-waving supporters at a rally in central Algiers. "The people has the right to choose in all freedom."

Few weighty opponents have emerged to challenge the independence war veteran, who is widely tipped to win the April polls and extend a decade in power to 2014. - Reuters