Senate gives Jonathan power

ABUJA - The Nigerian senate voted yesterday to empower the vice-president to take over from the nation's ill and absent president, potentially ending a constitutional crisis that has engulfed the country.

The senate voted to authorise Goodluck Jonathan to take over as president and commander in chief while President Umaru Yar'Adua remains hospitalised in Saudi Arabia. A similar motion sat yesterday before the Nigerian House of Representatives. If the chamber passes the measure, Jonathan could be immediately sworn in as president.

Yar'Adua, who has long suffered from kidney ailments, travelled out of the country several times for what his advisers said were medical checkups before he left Nigeria for Saudi Arabia on November 23.

He was admitted to a hospital the next day.

His physician released a statement saying Yar'Adua had acute pericarditis.

While Nigerian law allows for a smooth transition of power from Yar'Adua to the vice-president, the 58-year-old president left without following any of those procedures. - Sapa-AP