A Niger court banned a 48-hour nationwide strike intended to start on Thursday to oppose President Mamadou Tandja’s plans to extend his stay in office, state-run media said.
The African nation’s seven main trade unions called the strike on Wednesday but a Niamey court ruled the action, the reports said. The unions said they knew nothing of the court order and maintained the strike call.
Tandja (71) should step down on December 22 but has called a referendum for August 4, which if approved could allow him to stay in office until at least 2012.
”Only the government is aware of such an court order, we have not received any documentation from any judge to that effect,” Issoufou Sidibe, secretary general of the Confederation of Democratic Workers of Niger (CDTN) told Agence France-Presse.
The unions called on public, private and even informal sector workers to join the strike to send a ”clear” message to Tandja to call off the referendum.
In defiance of a constitutional court and Parliament, Tandja called the referendum to vote on a new Constitution that will allow him to keep power for three more years and run for office again for unlimited terms.
Envoys from the United Nations and African regional bodies who met Tandja on Tuesday expressed deep concern at events in Niger.
In June thousands of workers staged a one-day strike demanding that Tandja respect the Constitution of the impoverished west African country. — AFP