Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has died after a long illness, according to his office in Abuja. Segun Adeniyi, chief press secretary to Yar’Adua, confirmed that the President died about 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Wednesday in Abuja.

Mr. Yar’Adua, 58, had been suffering from a heart ailment since November, which necessitated his seeking treatment in Saudi Arabia and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan assuming office as acting president.

A former governor of the northern state of Katsina, Mr. Yar’Adua was elected president in 2007 following controversial general elections.

His term was dominated by speculations over his health, as he has suffered a chronic kidney condition for at least 10 years.

In the last three years, Mr. Yar’Adua has twice been flown to Germany for emergency treatment and visited hospitals in Saudi Arabia.

In February, Mr. Jonathan became acting president following Mr. Yar’Adua’s three-month absence as a result of pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining of the heart.

Mr. Jonathan, 52, was elevated from vice-president on February 9 by the Nigerian National Assembly in Yar’Adua’s absence.

Yar’Adua, 58, had not been seen in public since November, when he went to a Saudi hospital for treatment of the heart. He departed without invoking constitutional measures to temporarily hand over power, leaving Nigeria with a political and legal vacuum.

After both chambers of the legislature voted to install Mr. Jonathan as acting president, Mr. Yar’Adua returned to Nigeria and reoccupied the presidential palace but remained out of sight.

Mr. Yar’Adua was a Muslim from northern Nigeria, while Mr. Jonathan is a Christian from southern Nigeria.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed condolences for the death of Mr. Yar’Adua, in a White House statement.

“We remember and honour President Yar’Adua’s profound personal decency and integrity, his deep commitment to public service, and his passionate belief in the vast potential and bright future of Nigeria’s 150 million people,” Mr. Obama said.

He praised Mr. Yar’Adua’s work “to promote peace and stability in Africa through his support of Nigerian peacekeeping efforts as well as his strong criticism of undemocratic actions in the region. He was committed to creating lasting peace and prosperity within Nigeria’s own borders, and continuing that work will be an important part of honouring his legacy.”

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