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Lingering Nigerian Leadership Crisis Causes Continued Unease


Demonstrators display banners and placards as they participate in a protest in Abuja on March 10, 2010. Around 5,000 Nigerian activists staged a march to demand the sacking of the cabinet and a public appearance by ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua, two wee

Demonstrators display banners and placards as they participate in a protest in Abuja on March 10, 2010. Around 5,000 Nigerian activists staged a march to demand the sacking of the cabinet and a public appearance by ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua, two wee

Nigeria's ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua, whose return to the country last month sparked renewed uncertainty, has again come under pressure to relinquish power. Hundreds of protesters marched down the streets of Abuja to protest what is seen as a leadership vacuum in Africa's most populous country.

The installation of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as acting president has failed to satisfy the protestors who rallied under the hot tropical sun. They demanded the sacking of the cabinet and a public appearance of President Umaru Yar'Adua, two weeks after he returned from a Saudi hospital.

Mr. Yar'Adua is too frail to rule but his return has prompted fears that his inner circle of aides led by his wife Turai, will seek to sideline the acting president and stir instability in the world's eighth biggest oil exporter.

Acting President Jonathan sacked the country's national security adviser on Monday, in a bid to stamp his authority on the presidency.

A Nigerian analyst, Udenta Udenta, says removing the ailing president was unnecessary and could be a recipe for instability. He says with an acting president in charge, Mr. Yar'Adua should be left alone.

"We have an acting president," he said. "Why are we chasing the shadow of a visible and invisible president? Let the man who is sick be. Democracy is a process; complicated and difficult. There was a problem-everybody accepted there was a problem and we needed to find a solution. The solution was to create an image of order and stability and coherence in government, and move from there. What is necessary today is that an acting president is in charge. The president is sick. Let the man who is sick be away."

Vice President Jonathan assumed full presidential powers last month to fill a power vacuum left by President Yar'Adua, who was in Saudi Arabia since late November receiving treatment for a heart condition.

Mr. Yar'Adua who returned to Nigeria on February 24 after spending 93 days in Saudi Arabia, has not been seen in public since his arrival. A pro-Yar'Adua group, known as the 'Future Nigeria', also staged a parallel march to rally support for the ailing leader.

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