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Nigeria: Fuel strike protests suspended for weekend talks

Nigerian union leaders have halted strikes and protests over fuel prices for two days to allow talks with government to continue.

Nigerians plan mass strike fuel subsidy endsEnlarge
An attendant sells fuel in a jerry can at a filling station in Lagos on November 10, 2011. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

More from GlobalPost: Nigeria: Deadly clashes as gas price strike shuts down country

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.

More from GlobalPost: Nigeria calls indefinite strike over fuel subsidy cut

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

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/nigeria/120113/nigeria-fuel-strike-protests-suspended-gas-prices