Jonathan sacks Nigerian cabinet - UPDATE 1

Jonathan will send a list of ministerial nominees for Senate approval by early next week, a presidency source said.

Jonathan sacks Nigerian cabinet - UPDATE 1

Nigeria's Acting President Goodluck Jonathan dissolved the cabinet on Wednesday in a further step to assert his authority a month after assuming executive powers, government and presidency sources said.

"Today, the acting president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, dissolved the Federal Executive Council (cabinet)," Information Minister Dora Akunyili told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

"He did not give us any reason for the dissolution of the cabinet. Permanent secretaries will take charge of the ministries from tomorrow," Akunyili told reporters.

The powerful governors of Nigeria's 36 states, senior ruling party officials and other lobby groups will now put forward nominees for new ministers. Jonathan will decide on a shortlist which will then be screened and approved by the Senate.

But Jonathan, from the southern Niger Delta, is unlikely to run in elections due by April next year because of an unwritten agreement that power rotates between the north and south.

Jonathan took over as acting president in early February, towards the end of Yar'Adua's three-month absence for treatment for a heart condition in a Saudi clinic. The 58-year-old leader has since returned to Nigeria but remains too sick to rule.

Jonathan has moved quickly to assert his authority. He had already demoted the former justice minister -- a close Yar'Adua ally -- and appointed respected ex-military general Theophilus Danjuma as one of his top advisers.

He also sacked the country's national security adviser, a key member of Yar'Adua's inner circle.

Yar'Adua is a Muslim from the north and his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, was a Christian from the south.

Jonathan's presidency has been controversial in Nigeria, with Yar'Adua's northern supporters saying they have been shortchanged since someone from the south has taken over the reins of the country before their leader completed his term.

Yar'Adua's supporters had also staged rallies in his support.

"New cabinet"

Jonathan will send a list of ministerial nominees for Senate approval by early next week and is likely to reappoint around half the cabinet, a presidency source said on Thursday.

"Twenty of the ministers will certainly come back," the source said, adding that the outgoing Minister of State for Petroleum, Odein Ajumogobia, was likely to be chosen as the new oil minister of the OPEC member country.

The source also said outgoing Defence Minister Godwin Abbe, who has been leading implementation of an amnesty in the restive oil-producing Niger Delta, was likely to be reappointed to continue work on the programme.

Jonathan sacked the cabinet on Wednesday almost a month after parliament empowered him to run Africa's most populous country.

The surprise cabinet sacking heightened immediate uncertainty in the oil-producing nation of 140 million people, leaving civil servants in charge of ministries until new ministers are screened and approved.

Former Information Minister Dora Akunyili, the only cabinet member to criticise openly those around Yar'Adua for the handling of his absence, was likely to be made Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, the source said.

Fears of a coup have permeated the country, which has a long history of military dictators, but senior officials in the armed forces promised not to intervene and restricted troop movements.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Mart 2010, 12:36

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