Nigeria's President dies after long illness, funeral due

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua died, aged 58, after a long battle with kidney and heart ailments.

Nigeria's President dies after long illness, funeral due

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua died late on Wednesday, aged 58, after a long battle with kidney and heart ailments.

"Nigeria has lost the jewel on its crown," Jonathan said, announcing seven days of national mourning.

Yar'Adua will be buried in his northern home town of Katsina at 2 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Thursday.

Akunyili said he had died at around 2000 GMT on Wednesday in the presidential villa.

Yar'Adua had been absent from the political scene since November, when he left for medical treatment for a heart condition in Saudi Arabia. He returned to Nigeria in February but remained too sick to govern.

Yar'Adua, who pledged respect for the rule of law when he took office, initially was seen by many Nigerians as a breath of fresh air after eight years of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, an overbearing ex-military ruler with a penchant for disregarding court orders and legal detail.

Yar'Adua was Nigeria's first university-educated leader and won victory in April 2007 polls, marked the first transfer of power from one civilian president to another since independence in 1960.

His biggest achievement was in the restive Niger Delta, the heartland of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.

Militant attacks rumbled on during the early part of his tenure, but his offer of amnesty last year led thousands of gunmen to lay down their weapons and has brought more than six months of relative peace in the region.

The main militant group in the region, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said it was saddened by Yar'Adua's death.

"MEND considers the late president a genuine peacemaker whose initiatives, humility and respect began to bring confidence to the peace process," the group said in an email to Reuters. "His death may leave a vacuum that may not be filled."

"Next term due to go to north"

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan was swiftly sworn in as head of state on Thursday following the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua, a Reuters correspondent at the ceremony said.

It is unclear if Jonathan, who is from the southern Niger Delta, will run for president because of an unwritten agreement in the ruling party that power rotates between north and south. The next four-year term is due to go to Yar'Adua's Muslim north.

Government ministers, state governors and ambassadors watched as Jonathan took the oath of office at the presidential villa in Abuja in a ceremony presided over by Nigeria's chief justice.

He will appoint a new deputy and the pair will then complete the unexpired presidential term in the oil-producing nation of more than 140 million people until elections due by April 2011.

Jonathan assumed executive powers in February and has since consolidated his hold on power, appointing a new cabinet and his own team of advisers.

"The paramount issue will be who the new vice president will be. It'll probably be a northerner (who) will be front runner for the presidency in 2011," said Kayode Akindele, a director at Lagos-based consultancy Greengate Strategic Partners.


Agencies

Last Mod: 06 Mayıs 2010, 11:33
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