Vice-President of Nigeria in charge

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The Independent Online

A Nigerian federal court has ruled that Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan can perform the executive duties of President Umaru Yar'Adua, who is in hospital in Saudi Arabia, without a formal transfer of power.

"The court verdict has now empowered the Vice-President to start assuming the powers of an acting president," attorney-general Michael Aondoakaa said after the ruling.

Transferring power from Mr Yar'Adua, a Muslim northerner, to Mr Jonathan, from the Christian south, is sensitive in a country where rival groups have maintained a careful balance since the return of civilian rule in 1999. Mr Jonathan has already been representing Mr Yar'Adua at cabinet meetings and official functions.