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Nigerian Presidential Candidate Denies Reports of His Death

The presidential candidate of Nigeria's ruling party says he will return soon from Germany, where he was flown Tuesday for medical treatment.

In an telephone interview Wednesday with VOA's Hausa service, Umar Yar'Adua declined to say what his ailment was. But he added that he will return to Nigeria soon to continue his presidential campaign.

Asked about news reports in Nigeria saying he had died, Mr. Yar'Adua said, "I am talking to you now, do you think I am dead?"

The candidate was taken to a hospital in the German city of Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt, late Tuesday.

Yar'Adua, 56, has suffered from a kidney ailment in the past, which has raised questions about his fitness to be president.

He left Nigeria six weeks before the country's presidential elections. As the nominee for president from the powerful People's Democratic Party party, Yar'Adua is seen as one of the favorites to win the April election.

A party spokesman says the candidate is undergoing tests not available in Nigeria.

Yar'Adua is currently the governor of Nigeria's northern Katsina state.

The ruling party is trying to keep its hold on power following two terms in office by President Olusegun Obasanjo. The president is constitutionally barred from running for a third term.