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Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 16:32 UK

Nigeria - Goodluck Jonathan 'not spoken to Yar'Adua'

Goodluck Jonathan: "I've not seen the doctor... about three occasions I've had discussions with the wife"

Nigeria's Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has told the BBC he has not seen or had "sustained discussion" with the ill president in about five months.

Umaru Yar'Adua went to Saudi Arabia for treatment in November 2009 and despite returning home in February has still not been seen in public.

Mr Jonathan gave no indication whether the president's condition had improved.

He said he had not seen the president's doctor but said he had spoken to his wife three times.

In terms of the last time we really had sustained discussions, that was 26 November
Goodluck Jonathan

"I've not seen the doctor. I have had - on about three occasions - discussions with his wife," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"And I've had discussions with some of the other aides.

"In terms of the last time we [Mr Jonathan and Mr Yar'Adua] really had sustained discussions, that was 26 November - I think so - yeah," he said.

Mr Yar'Adua was flown to hospital in Saudi Arabia three days earlier, on 23 November.

Mr Jonathan said Mr Yar'Adua's doctor had not tried to contact him.

"He [the doctor] has not come to me. I don't want to compel him," said the acting president.

'Text message prosecutions'

In his interview, Mr Jonathan also touched on clashes in Jos, where tensions between Muslims and Christians since the start of the year have left many dead.

YAR'ADUA ILLNESS TIMELINE
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua -  file photo 29 July 2009
23 Nov 2009: Goes to hospital in Saudi Arabia
26 Nov: Doctors say he has pericarditis, a heart problem
23 Dec: First court case filed urging him to step down
12 Jan: President gives telephone interview from Saudi Arabia
27 Jan: Cabinet declares president fit
9 Feb: Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan made acting president
24 Feb: President Yar'Adua returns home

He promised to prosecute those behind text messages inciting the violence, which he said was ethnic, rather than religious.

He explained that most of the indigenous population in Jos were Christian, while "some of the settlers - not all" were Muslim.

"So if anything touches a settler who is a Muslim, it will be interpreted as if they are attacking the Muslims," he said.

"And if the settlers that are Muslim now touched the indigenous population that are Christian, it will be interpreted as the Christians are being attacked."

Mr Jonathan thought the time for talking was over, and those responsible for committing crimes in Jos should be prosecuted.

"Anybody that is remotely or directly linked up with the crisis should be prosecuted," he said.

Electoral reform

Mr Jonathan also committed himself to pursuing electoral reform.

"Elections in Nigeria from now onwards will be free and fair," he said.

"Your vote must count."

He said the composition of the much-criticised Independent National Election Commission (Inec) would be reviewed when the terms of many of its members end in June 2010.

Last week the US government recommended that Inec Chairman Maurice Iwu, who has been blamed for the flawed elections in 2007, be replaced ahead of new polls in 2011.

"If we find people wanting, we will make changes," said Mr Jonathan.



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