- Category: Politics
- Published on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 00:18
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 1115
The two houses of
The votes to install Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as acting head of state sent a powerful political message to Yar'Adua's supporters but heightened political turmoil as no-one could say what legal force the move has.
The president has been in hospital in
A motion passed by the Senate said that "Jonathan shall henceforth discharge the functions of the office of president, commander in chief of the armed forces of the federation, as acting president."
In its resolution, the lower house of parliament said in the interests of "peace, order and good governance" the vice president "shall assume full presidential powers as acting president, pending the return of the president."
The Senate said Jonathan would cede the powers once Yar'Adua informs the parliament of his return from "medical vacation".
Jonathan received the backing of
Government officials said there was no legal requirement for him to be sworn in.
The main opposition Action Congress (AC) called the votes illegal. "What has happened today has taken
Constitutional lawyer Festus Keyamo commented: "What they have done amounts to a coup plot. It is a desperate decision by desperate politicians who were trying to save their face."
Another opposition coalition, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, said the votes were a first move to ending what it called "the constitutional crisis and power vacumm impasse".
"Their decision is a pre-emptive action to prevent a military take-over," he added.
Opposition leaders have accused the government of covering up the seriousness of the president's illness.
Part of the political battle is the delicate regional power balancing act in
But the assembly votes increased pressure on the cabinet over its support for Yar'Adua after a High Court demand last month that ministers decide whether the president was fit to continue.
Information Minister Dora Akunyili, the government's spokeswoman, broke ranks with cabinet colleagues last Wednesday, calling on them to revoke their decision.
International concerns were highlighted by US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnny Carson who stressed the "uncertainty" in
He said the
Yar'Adua has not written to the legislature. However, the Senate said it based its decision on a January 12 BBC interview with the president saying he would return to work once his doctors cleared him.
The BBC interview was "irrefutable proof" that president is on medical vacation in line with the constitutional provision, said senate president David Mark.
The Federal High Court ruled in January that Jonathan could carry out the president's functions in his absence, but not as "acting president".
A delegation of lawmakers is to meet Yar'Adua in