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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 20:13 GMT
Niger tax protest turns violent
Niger's President Mamadou Tandja
President Tandja has won praise for bringing relative stability to Niger
Thousands of protesters in Niger have demonstrated outside parliament against rising prices - some calling for the president's resignation.

They were complaining about tax increases of nearly 20% imposed in January on basic commodities.

The BBC's Idy Barou in Niamey says the rally ended in violence, with shops looted and streetlights smashed.

Niger, rated as one of the world's poorest nations, was badly affected by last year's locust invasion.

President Mamadou Tandja, who won a second term in office in December, has brought a measure of economic and political stability to the country.

Resignation calls

The protesters said the recent tax hikes have pushed the cost of sugar, flour and milk beyond the means of many people.

Water is a constitutional right in Niger
Slogan on protester's placard

Slogans like "President Mamadou and his prime minister should resign" were being shouted by the demonstrators, our correspondent says.

Taxes were also levied on water and electricity and some placards read: "Water is a constitutional right in Niger".

The speaker of parliament promised to pass on to government the list of demands handed to him by the crowd that marched to parliament.

The protesters warned they would return to the streets on Saturday if their demands were not met.

Two thirds of Niger's 11 million people live on less than $1 a day and the country is at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Niger
09 Nov 04 |  Country profiles
Q&A: The Niger link
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