Western nations urge Nigeria to exercise restraint


Three Western nations and the European Union urged Nigeria to adhere to its constitutional process in the “current period of uncertainty” caused by the absence of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who has been undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for the past three months.

“Nigeria is one of the most important countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a member of the UN Security Council, a global oil producer, a leader in ECOWAS [the Economic Community of West African States], a major peacekeeping contributing country, and a stabilizing force in West Africa,” the United States, the European Union, Britain and France said in a joint statement issued January 28 in London on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan.
“Nigeria’s stability and democracy carry great significance beyond its immediate borders,” the statement said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton signed the joint statement.
“We express our deep regret at the recent violence and tragic loss of lives in Jos, and extend our sympathies to the bereaved and injured. We urge all parties to exercise restraint and seek peaceful means to resolve differences between religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria,” the statement said.

Yar’Adua has been receiving medical treatment for a heart condition in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, since November 23. Efforts to transfer presidential powers to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan are under way in the Nigerian courts. To date, Yar’Adua has not directed or asked Jonathan to accept temporary control of the nation, nor have the courts ordered a transfer of power, which is provided for in the Nigerian constitution.

Jonathan told reporters on January 28 that the president will return “soon,” but gave no specific date for his return. The Nigerian Senate on January 27 urged that Yar’Adua transfer power to Jonathan in accordance with the constitution.

Yar’Adua’s Cabinet determined that the president has not been incapacitated by his illness and said he was fit to remain in office.
“Nigeria has expressed its resolve to adhere to constitutional processes during this difficult time,” the joint statement said. “We commend that determination to address the current situation through appropriate democratic institutions.”

Sources: www.africom.mil and America.gov

Pic: Nigerian president- Umaru musa Yar’Adua

AFRICOM PAO note: The following article by the US Department of State is provided for public awareness of US policy in Africa. As a military organization, US Africa Command does not lead US foreign policy but instead supports policies articulated by elected civilian leaders.