Page last updated at 19:28 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 20:28 UK

Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan sworn in as president

The ceremony took place in the presidential villa in Abuja

Nigeria's acting President Goodluck Jonathan has been sworn in as head of state following the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua after a long illness.

Mr Jonathan, in charge since February, will appoint a deputy and serve out the rest of the current presidential term until elections due next year.

Mr Yar'Adua died late on Wednesday in the capital Abuja.

Thousands attended the funeral in his home town of Katsina. Nigeria has declared seven days mourning.

Mr Jonathan took the oath of office in front of government ministers and other officials in Abuja almost 12 hours after Mr Yar'Adua died. The ceremony was performed by Chief Justice Alloysius Katsina-Alu.

BBC's Ahmed Idris
Ahmed Idris, BBC News, Katsina

Tens of thousands of men shoved and pushed their way into the stadium in Katsina to pay their respects to Nigeria's later President Umaru Yar'Adua.

Chants of "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) began as his body - on a bamboo stretcher and wrapped in a Nigerian white and green flag - was carried in by military men.

Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida were among the mourners. Other dignitaries included Niger's interim prime minister. There was also a government delegation, but Mr Yar'Adua's deputy, newly sworn-in President Goodluck Jonathan, was not among them.

Security was tight during the prayers, which lasted about 30 minutes in the 40 degree heat; and the mood was sombre as the body was removed to the cemetery for a burial mainly attended by those close to the late president.

Afterwards he made a brief address, saying his administration was committed to pursuing electoral reform and the fight against corruption "with greater vigour".

"While this is a major burden on me, and indeed the entire nation, we must - in the midst of such great adversity - continue to gain our collective efforts towards upholding the values which our departed leader represented," Mr Jonathan said.

He added: "One of the true tests will be that all votes count, and are counted, in our upcoming presidential election."

The BBC's Karen Allen says that all eyes will now be on the figure President Jonathan - who is from the largely Christian south - appoints as his deputy.

By tradition the presidency alternates between the mainly Muslim north and the south, and whomever he selects is likely to be seen as the presidential candidate for the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), she says.

The north is due another presidential term, however some analysts believe that Mr Jonathan could still strengthen his political power base, defy political convention and run for office himself.

Condolences paid

Mr Yar'Adua, who was 58, was buried in a Muslim ceremony in Katsina state.

Businesses and shops closed down as a sign of respect.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua - 29 July 2009
Born in northern Katsina state in 1951
University chemistry professor before entering politics
Married, with nine children
Elected president in 2007 promising reforms
Fell ill repeatedly while in office

Soldiers and police officers accompanied his body on the flight to the northern town of Katsina.

There, mourners carried his body on their shoulders on a bamboo stretcher into a football stadium for a service.

Among chants of "God is great", the body - in a simple coffin - was buried at a cemetery near his home.

Mourners carried Yar'Adua's body, covered by Nigeria's green and white flag, on a bamboo stretcher to the open field for prayers and then burial at a nearby cemetery.

"The death of President Yar'Adua is a great loss to democracy and a loss to the country and the whole of Africa in general," Ibrahim Ahmed told Reuters news agency.

Political limbo

Mr Yar'Adua's election in 2007 marked the first transfer of power from one civilian president to another since Nigeria's independence in 1960.

He promised a string of reforms in Africa's most populous nation, including tackling corruption and reforming the inadequate energy sector and flawed electoral system.

Analysts say he made the most progress in tackling unrest in the oil-rich Niger Delta by offering amnesties to rebels.

Yar'Adua buried in home town

His long absence and the lack of detailed information about his health led to a political limbo in Nigeria, which was only filled when Mr Jonathan was named as acting president.

However, there was constant tension between supporters of Mr Yar'Adua and Mr Jonathan and in March the acting president dissolved the cabinet and later put his own team in place.

During Mr Yar'Adua's absence, Nigerian Nobel prize-winning author Wole Soyinka was involved in the campaign to resolve the power vacuum.

On Thursday he said Mr Yar'Adua's illness had been manipulated by politicians who had concealed the fact he was in a vegetative state while making arrangements for the forthcoming election.

He told the BBC the late president had been a victim of a macabre game over his succession and not been allowed to be ill in dignity.


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