The Council of Ministers announced on 3 November 2008 that a planned constitutional revision would remove the two-term limit on the Presidency that was previously included in Article 74, thereby enabling President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a third term. The People's National Assembly endorsed the removal of the term limit on 12 November 2008; only the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) voted against its removal.
Although some urged former President Liamine Zéroual to run, he said in a published statement on 14 January 2009 that he would not, while also suggesting that it was not in the best interests of democracy for President Bouteflika to run for a third term.
RCD President Saïd Sadi announced on 15 January 2009 that the RCD would not participate in the election, which he described as a "pathetic and dangerous circus", saying that to participate "would be tantamount to complicity in an operation of national humiliation".
Bouteflika announced his independent candidacy for a third term at a rally in Algiers on 12 February 2009, and he officially submitted his candidacy on 23 February, shortly before the deadline.