Reuters International

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria will hold parliamentary elections on May 4, the presidency said on Thursday, starting the countdown to the first ballot since the legislature's powers were boosted by amendments to the country's constitution.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has governed the North African OPEC state for more than 15 years, "signed the decree summoning the electorate," it said in a statement.

Under the constitutional changes approved in February, Algeria set up an independent election monitoring body and reinstated a two-term limit for the presidency.

Parliament remains weak in terms of powers, but Islamist parties have already announced plans to join forces ahead of the election in a bid to reduce the influence of the main pro-government parties including the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Rally for Democracy party (RND).

The pro-government parties - which are also pro-Bouteflika - hold a large majority of the assembly's 462 seats following the previous election in 2012.

(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; editing by Patrick Markey and John Stonestreet)

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