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Nigeria president still out: VP Goodluck Jonathan takes over

In Nigeria, a federal court ruled Vice President Goodluck Jonathan could take on the duties of the absent Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua. But his authority is likely to be challenged in court and the political crisis is not over, analysts say.

Policemen stand in a truck during a protest rally against Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua's long absence without handing over power, in the capital Abuja Tuesday.

Afolabi Sotunde / Reuters

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A federal court handed Nigeria’s vice-president the power to carry out state affairs while his boss, President Umaru Yar’Adua, continues treatment in a Saudi Arabian hospital.

Seven weeks of constitutional confusion have followed Mr. Yar’Adua’s sudden departure because he did not tell the National Assembly that he was going and did not officially pass the baton to his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan.

A judge in the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday ruled that Mr. Jonathan had the authority to take the reins in a judgment which immediately brought claims of skulduggery from demonstrators and those in the political opposition. Nigeria's political crisis has not been solved by this ruling, say analysts.

Opponents have been increasingly pushing for prescribed constitutional mechanisms designed to pass on power in case the president is incapacitated.

Three separate court cases were due to open in Abuja on Thursday, all aimed at forcing the president’s office to concede control to Mr. Jonathan. But Wednesday’s surprise hearing – few in Abuja knew that the case was scheduled – led to each of the other three legal hearings being adjourned.

Officially, power has not been handed to the vice president, a little known former governor of one of Nigeria’s oil-producing southern states. Instead, Wednesday’s court ruling simply stated that other sections of the constitution allow Mr. Jonathan to carry out the functions of the presidency even if powers have not officially been handed over.

Yar'Adua spoke publicly Monday


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