Nigeria president's health is 'improving' after treatment in S. Arabia

Yar'Adua is "very much conscious" and his health is improving after receiving treatment for a heart condition in hospital in S. Arabia, a spokesman said.

Nigeria president's health is 'improving' after treatment in S. Arabia

Ailing Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua is "very much conscious" and his health is improving after receiving treatment for a heart condition in hospital in Saudi Arabia, a presidency spokesman said on Monday.

The 58-year-old leader has not been seen or heard from publicly since leaving Nigeria on Nov. 23, fuelling speculation in the local media about the gravity of his illness, with some reporting he is largely incapable of communicating.

"The president is alive and actually getting better," Olusegun Adeniyi told reporters by phone from Angola.

"He is very much conscious, can talk and has been talking, including making phone calls to some people back home."

He said he did not know when Yar'Adua would return to Nigeria as it was up to his doctors to decide.

A rally, led by Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka, is scheduled for early on Tuesday in Abuja to pressure the government to disclose more information about Yar'Adua's medical condition. Parliament also is expected to address the issue of the president's absence on Tuesday.

The government is facing pressure from senior lawyers, political analysts and opposition party officials to provide concrete evidence that Yar'Adua is fit enough to govern Africa's most populous country.

Critics say government assurances are no longer enough and demand visual evidence of the president's condition after seven weeks in hospital.

Affairs of state affected

Political analysts say affairs of state are being affected in sub-Saharan Africa's second biggest economy, pushing Nigeria to the brink of a constitutional crisis.

The prolonged absence has stalled a federal amnesty programme and forced former rebels, responsible for years of attacks that have devastated Africa's biggest energy producer, to rethink their participation.

Vice President Goodluck Jonathan has been representing the president at cabinet meetings and official functions but executive powers have not been transferred to him, leading the Nigerian Bar Association and prominent human rights lawyer to challenge the legality of decisions made in Yar'Adua's absence.

A federal court in Abuja is scheduled on Thursday to hear three separate lawsuits against the government which accuse the president of breaching the constitution by staying in power.

Reuters
Last Mod: 11 Ocak 2010, 21:29
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