- Category: Politics
- Published on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 17:01
- Written by Admin
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But the vote by the cabinet, many of them Yar’Adua’s appointees, set it on a collision course with the Senate, which said the president should formally notify parliament of his absence, a step which would mean his deputy taking over.
The 58-year-old leader has been in
“The medical treatment outside the country does not constitute incapacity to warrant or commence the process of the removal of the president from office,” the cabinet said in a statement read by Justice Minister Michael Aondoakaa.
Political analysts had expected ministers to rally around Yar’Adua after a federal court last week gave them 14 days to pass a resolution on whether he was fit enough to govern.
No minister has publicly said they have spoken to Yar’Adua in recent weeks and it was not immediately clear what medical evidence formed the basis for the vote of confidence.
The opposition has criticised the cabinet for backing Yar’Adua out of self-interest, fearing that should Jonathan take over he could sack them and appoint his own allies.
The Senate appeared not to share the cabinet’s confidence.
“The Senate urged the president ... to formally notify the National Assembly of his medical vacation pursuant to section 145 of the 1999 constitution,” Senate President David Mark said, following two days of closed-door debate by lawmakers.
Article 145 states that whenever the president submits a written declaration that he is going on vacation or otherwise unable to perform his duties, the vice president takes over as acting president until he writes again to the contrary.
Although the Senate does not have the authority to force Yar’Adua to hand over power, parliament could in theory move to impeach him for misconduct if he fails to heed its call.
The Senate’s decision after what lawmakers described as hours of “painstaking” debate is another blow to the efforts of Yar’Adua’s “kitchen cabinet” to keep him in power.
Last Friday, a federal high court gave the cabinet 14 days to pass a resolution on whether Yar’Adua is fit enough to govern in response to a legal case brought by a former lawmaker arguing his failure to transfer power was in breach of the constitution.
Two similar suits by the Nigerian Bar Association and a leading human rights lawyer are still awaiting judgement.
BENEFITING FROM THE STATUS QUO
The legal debate at the top of
But the reluctance of those close to Yar’Adua – known as his kitchen cabinet – to hand over even temporarily to Jonathan has deeper roots in
There is an agreement among the political elite that power should rotate every two presidential terms between the Muslim north and predominantly-Christian south, a principle aimed at avoiding the sort of bloodshed seen during a civil war which left one million dead between 1967 and 1970.
Yar’Adua, a northerner, is part way through his first term in office while Jonathan is a southerner.
Analysts also say too many of
The cabinet consists largely of Yar’Adua appointees who may lose their jobs if he goes, while powerful former state governors have seen corruption cases against them stall under Yar’Adua’s administration and fear such apparent immunity may evaporate with a change of guard.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday described the level of corruption in Nigeria as “unbelievable” and suggested poor governance and deteriorating living conditions made the country’s youth ripe targets for militant groups.
Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, who US officials believe was trained by al Qaeda in Yemen, is accused of trying to blow up a US airliner as it approached Detroit on Dec. 25.
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