Nigeria: The Dead President's Club

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March 4, 2010: The government remains paralyzed, as one group of government ministers has brought back president Umaru Yar'Adua from Saudi Arabia, and announced that he was resuming presidential power. But Yar'Adua has not appeared in public, and is apparently still, at best, incapacitated by his heart condition. Most of the government backs acting president, vice president Goodluck Johnson. But a group of ministers and state governors back Yar'Adua. The head of the armed forces says there will not be a coup, so the politicians will have to sort it out. That's not happening so far. Thus the peace deal in the delta, which Yar'Adua helped broker, continues to slip away. New efforts to battle corruption are stalled, by government ministers who oppose shifting power to the vice president. It's unclear if Yar'Adua is even alive or conscious.

Refugees from the religious fighting in central Nigeria (Jos) are leaving camps set up for them outside the city. The camps, set up two months ago, never received much food, medical or other aid, and poor sanitation has led most of the 20,000 refugees to move onto other places for shelter.

March 2, 2010: In the Niger Delta, a previously unknown rebel group (The People's Patriotic Revolutionary Force of the Joint Revolutionary Council, or PPRF) claimed they set off explosives near an oil pipeline pumping station. The facility was unused and unmanned, so there were no injuries and no interruption of oil shipments.

March 1, 2010: At least 17 policemen were arrested after a video appeared on al Jazeera, showing the cops shooting unarmed members of Boko Haram (a Taliban like group) in northern Nigeria last year. Boko Haram staged an uprising last July, and the police were sent in. Some 800 people died in the subsequent violence. The police have long been accused of executing, rather than arresting, suspects.

February 23, 2010: President Umaru Yar'Adua returned from Saudi Arabia, where he has been receiving medical treatment since last November. But no one actually saw Yar'Adua return, and a group of government ministers, who have insisted Yar'Adua was still in control of the government, announced that the president would soon appear in public. Meanwhile, vice president Goodluck Johnson continues running the country (or at least trying to) as acting presidents, as he has done for the last two weeks.

February 18, 2010: In neighboring Niger, the military attacked the presidential palace and removed president Mamadou Tandja from power. The army justified this because Tandja had been increasingly acting like a dictator.

February 9, 2010: Parliament has approved the transfer of presidential power to vice president Goodluck Johnson. The courts had earlier approved, and senior police and military commanders said they had no objection. But there's nothing in the constitution that allows this, and a group of corrupt presidential aides are opposing Johnson for personal (not wanting to be prosecuted for corruption) reasons.

February 8, 2010;  In the Niger Delta, a little known rebel group (Joint Revolutionary Council, or JRC) claimed they destroyed a pipeline, but the oil company denied that any facilities had been disabled.

 

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