News / Africa

US, Britain Back Nigeria's Acting Leader

Nigeria's new acting president and commander in chief Goodluck Jonathan is pictured as he takes office in Abuja, 10 Feb 2010
Nigeria's new acting president and commander in chief Goodluck Jonathan is pictured as he takes office in Abuja, 10 Feb 2010

The United States and Britain are offering support to Nigeria's acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, after the unexpected return of Nigeria's ailing leader prompted concerns of a possible power struggle.

A U.S. State Department spokesman (P.J. Crowley) said Friday that Mr. Jonathan is the recognized leader of Nigeria.

He also said the United States is concerned that the return of President Umaru Yar'Adua to Nigeria is an effort by the president's senior advisors to destabilize the country and to put forward their own personal interests.

British High Commissioner Bob Dewar said Friday it is important to avoid any political or constitutional confusion in Nigeria that could compromise the government's ability to operate with integrity and transparency.

President Yar'Adua returned to Nigeria early Thursday, following a three-month medical stay in Saudi Arabia.  He was whisked away by ambulance from Abuja's airport to his residence under tight security.

Presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi reiterated Thursday that Vice President Jonathan will continue leading the country while President Yar'Adua recovers from his long illness.  He said Mr. Jonathan is the acting president and commander-in-chief.

There has been no indication that Vice President Jonathan has spoken to the president since his return.  President Yar'Adua has made no public appearances since flying to Saudi Arabia November 23.

Earlier this month, parliament made Mr. Jonathan the acting leader in the president's absence.

Officials have released little information about the president's health since he was hospitalized.  Originally, he was reported to be suffering acute pericarditis, a dangerous inflammation of the membrane that covers the heart.  

The 58-year-old president also has a chronic kidney ailment that required several previous trips abroad for treatment.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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