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President re-emerges after seven-week absence

Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua broke seven weeks of silence on Tuesday, telling the BBC he was recovering from a heart condition, amid growing dissatisfaction among Nigerians over the political uncertainty of the country.

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REUTERS - Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua said in his first interview since going into hospital in Saudi Arabia seven weeks ago for a heart condition that he was recovering, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Speculation over his health and the fact that he had maintained executive powers despite his silence had brought growing unease in the oil-producing country of 140 million.

Nigerian religious leaders, politicians and educators plan a mass rally in Abuja on Tuesday to demand that the government put an end to the uncertainty.

The British Broadcasting Corporation said Yar’Adua had spoken by telephone.

“At the moment I am undergoing treatment, and I’m getting better from the treatment. I hope that very soon there will be tremendous progress, which will allow me to get back home,” he was quoted as saying on the BBC website.

“I wish, at this stage, to thank all Nigerians for their prayers for my good health, and for their prayers for the nation.”

Yar’Adua’s refusal to transfer powers to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan has prompted a lawsuit from the Nigerian Bar Association, slowed government business, and threatens to renew violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Parliament returns from recess on Tuesday and is expected to address the issue of Yar’Adua’s prolonged absence.
 

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