No visits to Nigerian head

RIYADH - Ailing Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua's doctors refuse to allow visitors from Abuja to see him in his Jeddah hospital, Nigeria's ambassador to Saudi Arabia said yesterday.

RIYADH - Ailing Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua's doctors refuse to allow visitors from Abuja to see him in his Jeddah hospital, Nigeria's ambassador to Saudi Arabia said yesterday.

But Abdullah Aminchi said he had visited Yar'Adua at the weekend and that the condition of the president, who has not been seen in public for three months, was improving after treatment for a heart ailment.

"I saw him the day before yesterday ... He's really feeling better now," Aminchi said.

He confirmed that a delegation of senior legislators were not allowed to see Yar'Adua earlier this month despite coming to Jeddah on a mission to gauge the health of the 58-year-old president who checked into King Faisal Specialist Hospital on November 23 for an acute heart condition.

Aminchi said it was Yar'Adua's doctors, not Saudi authorities, who had denied access to the ailing president.

"It is only the doctors assigned to him who are preventing visitors from seeing the president," despite a green light from the Saudi authorities, said Aminchi.

Amid fears of a political vacuum in Africa's most populous country, its parliament voted in early February to hand over power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan until Yar'Adua recovers.

However, according to news reports, Yar'Adua loyalists are seeking to challenge Jonathan's installation as acting president.

Aminchi has regularly given assurances that Yar'Adua's condition is improving, saying in mid-January that he was awaiting doctors' permission to return home. But there have been no official reports on his health. - Sapa-AFP

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