Nigeria: Fuel strike protests suspended for weekend talks


Nigeria's main unions have suspended strikes and protests over fuel prices for the weekend, to allow more talks between union leaders and government.

Today is the fifth day of a general strike over gas prices, which have risen dramatically since the government eliminated a fuel subsidy.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to demonstrate. While protests have been mostly peaceful, at least three people were shot dead in clashes with police.

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The BBC reported that unions described Thursday's talks with the government as "fruitful." But Nigeria's biggest unions said that strikes will resume next week if no agreement is reached.

Agence France-Presse reported that Nigeria Labor Congress president Abdulwahed Omar told a rally Friday in the capital Abuja that union leaders wanted protesters to take a break for two days.

"The labor movement and its civil society allies after nationwide consultations has decided that Saturday and Sunday will be observed as strike, protest and rally-free days," a joint union statement said, according to Reuters.

"We ask Nigerians to utilize these days to rest, restock and get re-energized for the continuation of the strikes, rallies and protest from Monday," the statement said.

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Gas prices have risen from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter) in Africa's largest oil producer and most populous nation.

Oil workers have threatened to cut oil output starting Sunday if the government does not reinstate the subsidy, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters:

The threat of a cut in oil output, which provides the government with 80 percent of its revenues, was a deciding factor in starting negotiations, political sources said.

President Goodluck Jonathan's government is also dealing with a string of deadly attacks blamed on the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, AFP noted.

More from GlobalPost: Nigeria Violence: Hundreds flee

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