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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 June 2007, 22:23 GMT 23:23 UK
Nigeria's unions end fuel strike
Fuel hawkers in Lagos. File photo
Selling fuel on the black market is rife in Nigeria
Nigeria's trade unions have called off their general strike over a recent rise in petrol prices, after talks with government officials.

Union leaders said they had accepted the government's proposal to freeze petrol prices for at least a year.

The government had already agreed to reduce its increase in prices as one of a series of compromises offered before the strike began on Wednesday.

The stoppage had brought Africa's top oil producer to a standstill.

Unions had called the strike over rises in fuel prices and value-added tax and the sale of two major oil refineries.

There is no winner or loser. If there's a loser, it's the Nigerian people
Babagana Kingibe
Government negotiator

The unions were angry at a series of measures pushed through in the last days of the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, who stepped down last month.

The price of petrol was increased from 65 naira (51 US cents) a litre to 75.

"There is no winner or loser," Babagana Kingibe, who led the negotiations for the government, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

"If there's a loser, it's the Nigerian people."

Saturday's move could be seen as a victory for the unions, but not a total one, the BBC's Alex Last in Lagos says.

Sensitive issue

In the end, the unions accepted a series of government compromises offered before the strike started and ditched their initial demand for a complete reversal of the recent hike in the price of subsidised fuel, our correspondent says.

He says the price of fuel is a sensitive issue in the country because it is one of the few benefits Nigerians get from the government, which receives billions of dollars in oil revenues but fails to provide even basic amenities.

New President Umaru Yar'Adua has emerged from this first major test just about intact, our correspondent says.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer but has to import most of its petrol because of the poor state of its refineries.

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