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Niger Opposition Strike Gets Partial Support

A call by Niger's opposition for a nationwide strike drew only partial support Wednesday, despite anger over the president's moves to extend his rule.

Witnesses in the capital, Niamey, said stores and businesses were open and that buses and taxis were operating normally.

Local radio stations said greater numbers honored the strike in the city of Zinder and other areas.

The opposition had called the strike to protest President Mamadou Tandja's plan to change the constitution so he can remain in office.

Late Tuesday, police detained opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou for about two hours after he accused the president of carrying out a virtual coup.
 
The president dissolved Niger's top court on Monday, a few days after declaring that he would rule by decree.

The Constitutional Court has ruled repeatedly that Mr. Tandja's plan for a vote on proposed constitutional changes is illegal.

Despite the rulings, Mr. Tandja's government has said the referendum will be held on August 4.

Niger's military has said it will remain neutral in the dispute.  The opposition Front for the Defense of Democracy had called on soldiers to ignore the president's orders.

On Tuesday, the European Union warned President Tandja that his bid to stay in office could threaten foreign aid to the nation.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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