Nigerians protest Bush visit

A small group of demonstrators marched on the US embassy in Abuja on Thursday to protest against US President George Bush’s planned visit to Nigeria.

    The protest coincided with a
    general strike

    The leaders of the peaceful protest said Bush’s visit would amount to recognition of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, which has been rejected by the opposition.

    Bush is expected to arrive in Nigeria on 11 July as the last stop on a five nation tour of Africa.

    The protesters were blocked by armed police in the lane leading to the embassy but made no attempt to enter the grounds. They were met by a US official who accepted a letter addressed to Bush.

    Obasanjo was re-elected on 19 April in an election which both international and Nigerian observers said was marked by widespread ballot-rigging and intimidation.

    Strike continues

    The demonstration coincided with the fourth day of a nationwide strike, protesting a fuel price hike.

    The strike has crippled the country and threatened to shut oil facilities in the world’s fifth biggest crude exporter.

    The strike now threatens to halt
    petrol exports

    On Thursday, Nigeria’s blue-collar oil union said it had begun withdrawing workers from export terminals and expected to bring the country’s crude exports to a halt within 48 hours.

    Labour leader Peter Akpatason said his Nupeng Union would complete pulling its members away from oil export terminals later on Thursday if the strike over the government’s doubling of fuel prices was not resolved.

    The protests have shut Nigeria’s seaports, banks, shops and industries since Monday, plunging already impoverished Nigerians into deeper hardship.

    “This will mean that there will be no exports from Nigeria and we will also close all oil flow stations by this action,” said Akpatason.

    Any disruption to exports could force world prices up.

    Scores of people were injured in a stampede in Abuja on Wednesday when troops fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse protesters.

    At least eight people have been killed since the start of the strike, which was triggered by a rise in fuel prices of more than 50 percent.

     

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