The crisis within Algeria's ruling party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), shows no signs of abating in the run-up to the April presidential elections. The public power struggle is highly unusual among ruling parties in the Arab world and suggests a fracturing of the political class that has been dominant in Algeria for decades. The conflict within the FLN emerged last May, when President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whom the FLN supported in his 1999 election, fired Ali Benflis, FLN secretary-general, as prime minister. Benflis then blocked the party from nominating Bouteflika for a second term. In September, Bouteflika sacked six FLN ministers close to Benflis. In October, seven more FLN ministers withdrew from the government in protest, and an FLN congress officially endorsed Benflis as the party's presidential candidate. The party is now split into pro-Benflis and pro-Bouteflika factions. In late December, an Algiers court ruled that the October congress was invalid, resulting in a freeze on the FLN's activities and funds. On January 5, FLN members of parliament staged a rally calling for Bouteflika's resignation, describing him as "a danger to public order and security." Riot police responded by beating the parliamentarians. Bouteflika has not yet announced whether he will stand for re-election, but the attacks on parliamentarians, a recent crackdown on the press, and allegations that Bouteflika pressured the judiciary to issue its December ruling portend a bitter and violent election campaign. Algeria's military, the most powerful institution in the country, has so far pledged its neutrality in the race.