Nigeria's acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, has dissolved the country's cabinet, government sources say. Mr Jonathan became acting president in February amid the continuing illness of President Umaru Yar'Adua.
Mr Yar'Adua went to Saudi Arabia for treatment in November last year and, despite returning to Nigeria recently, has not been seen in public.
The cabinet was picked by Mr Yar'Adua and correspondents say Mr Jonathan is now trying to stamp his own authority. Information Minister Dora Akunyili said after a cabinet meeting: "Today, the acting president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, dissolved the Federal Executive Council (cabinet). "He did not give us any reason for the dissolution. Permanent secretaries will take charge of the ministries from tomorrow."
Ms Akunyili said that Mr Jonathan would issue a statement soon on the future make-up of the cabinet. Mr Jonathan will have to submit the list of new ministers to the National Assembly.
It was only on 9 February that the assembly appointed Mr Jonathan as acting president, allowing him to sign legislation, chair cabinet meetings, reshuffle ministers and release oil funds.
Since he assumed power he has been faced with serious communal violence between Muslim and Christian groups near the city of Jos that has left hundreds dead. On Wednesday, at least 10 people were killed in an attack on a mainly Christian village near Jos.
Armed groups who say they are fighting for a fairer share of oil wealth have also continued their campaign in the Niger Delta. President Yar'Adua was treated in Saudi Arabia for what his doctor described as acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. There are no details of his current condition.
Amid the continuing uncertainty over Mr Yar'Adua, it was announced on Tuesday that next year's presidential election could be brought forward by three months. Mr Yar'Adua's term of office expires in May 2011 but he is not expected to stand again.
The ruling People's Democratic Party, to which both Mr Yar'Adua and Mr Jonathan belong, has a policy of alternating between Muslim and Christian presidential candidates, allowing each to serve two four-year terms.
Mr Yar'Adua, a Muslim, was elected in 2007 after Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian, had ruled for eight years. The People's Democratic Party this month confirmed that a Muslim would be the candidate next year to continue this policy, ruling out Mr Jonathan, a Christian.
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|