ALGIERS, Algeria — Algeria's president has visited the construction site of the future Great Mosque in Algiers, in a rare public appearance of the 81-year-old ailing leader.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been debilitated by a stroke for years, appeared in television footage in a wheelchair Tuesday.

After praying at a mosque belonging to a religious brotherhood outside the capital, Bouteflika visited the gigantic construction site of the Great Mosque.

The presidential project has been criticized for its cost of more than $1.6 billion, considered excessive for the North African country.

Algeria's FLN governing party is urging Bouteflika to seek a fifth term in next year's presidential election despite his frail health and growing doubts about his ability to lead the oil-and-gas-rich country, the largest in Africa.