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Nigerian president misses cabinet meeting amid health fears

FILE - In this Friday, May 29, 2015 file photo, Nigerian President elect, Muhammadu Buhari, arrives for his Inauguration at the eagle square in Abuja, Nigeria. Nigeria's president is again missing his weekly cabinet meeting Wednesday May 3, 2017, as concerns mount about his health. President Muhammadu Buhari took six weeks of medical leave in London earlier this year, leading to some calls for his replacement. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s president missed his weekly cabinet meeting for the third straight time Wednesday as concerns mounted about his health, while his wife took to Twitter to defend him.

President Muhammadu Buhari disappeared for six weeks of medical leave in London earlier this year, leading some to call for his replacement. The 74-year-old returned to work in mid-March but often works from home, according to aides.

The uncertainty over Buhari’s health has raised fears of instability in Africa’s most populous nation and one of its top oil producers.

A tweet from his office on Wednesday said the latest cabinet meeting was being presided over by the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, who had been in charge during the president’s medical leave.

Buhari’s office last month put out a statement saying he remained in charge even though doctors had advised “on his taking things slowly.” On his return to Nigeria in March, he made reference to blood transfusions and said he had not been so sick in decades.

The president was following his doctor’s advice to take some rest on Wednesday, Information Minister Lai Mohammed told reporters.

“Mr. President will stick to his doctor’s advice so that he can recover much more quickly,” Mohammed said.

The minister added that Buhari will soon “go back for further treatment,” but it was not clear whether that means another trip to London.

Buhari’s wife, Aisha, tweeted late Tuesday that her husband’s health “is not as bad as it’s being perceived.”

Nigeria continues to grapple with crises that include Boko Haram extremist attacks, millions facing starvation in the country’s northeast and an economy that last year contracted for the first time in a quarter-century.

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