Security forces in Algeria arrested 41 people during protests in the capital Algiers against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in office.

Police forces on Friday used water cannon and tear gas against the protesters as they made their way towards the presidential palace on in Algiers.

The General Directorate for National Security said in a Saturday  statement carried by official news agency APS that it arrested 41 people during the protests over ‘public disorder, assaulting forces and damaging property.’  Earlier this month, Bouteflika, who has ruled the North African country since 1999, announced his intention to seek a new five-year term in the elections scheduled for April 18.

The announcement was met with protests across the country.

The 81-year-old suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public. He is scheduled to travel to Geneva on Sunday ‘to conduct regular medical check-ups,’ the presidency announced on Thursday.

Bouteflika is the only president in North Africa who was spared in the pro-democracy uprisings of the Arab Spring that started in neighbouring Tunisia in 2010.

At the time, his government contained pro-democracy protests with promises of reform and pay raises, financed by the country's revenues from oil and gas.

In recent years, Algeria's finances have been hurt by the global drop in oil prices, prompting cuts in state subsidies.