* Government cut fuel subsidies but kept fares unchanged
* Higher fuel prices will cut into earnings, union says
* Over 100 killed in a 2008 taxi drivers' strike
By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE, July 2 Transport workers in Cameroon
threatened on Wednesday to strike next week over a government
decision to cut some fuel subsidies, raising the spectre of
unrest as the country tries to please international donors.
The government announced on Monday that it was cancelling
petrol, diesel and cooking gas subsidies, which would make the
price of petrol rise by 14 percent and diesel by 15 percent.
But transport fares remain unchanged, leading unions
representing drivers of buses, taxis and trucks to complain the
higher operating costs would cut into their earnings.
"It is not normal that they should raise the price of petrol
and not also the transport fares," said Pierre Nyemeck, head of
the CGSTC, one of Cameroon's main transportation unions.
"If the government wants to prevent the strike, it should
also increase transport fares," he said.
Cameroon has long produced both oil and cocoa, but analysts
say a lack of reform and political stagnation under President
Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982, have stymied
economic growth and development.
The International Monetary Fund has for years called for
subsidies, which cost around $600 million a year, to be cut.
But Cameroon has repeatedly delayed the move following a
violent 2008 taxi strike over fuel prices that left over 100
dead and a failed bid to cut similar subsidies in neighbouring
Nigeria in 2012.
Speaking to reporters late on Tuesday, government spokesman
Issa Tchiroma Bakary said the measures would benefit Cameroon's
economy in the long-run.
"I call upon our people to accept these adjustments with
responsibility, understanding and civic-mindedness and not to
fall victim to instrumentalisation ... aiming to undermine the
stability of our country," he said.
The government says fuel subsidies cost Cameroon 157 billion
CFA francs ($326.78 million) in the first six months of this
budget year alone.
The IMF said in May that Cameroon's overall fiscal deficit
for 2014 was forecast at 5.5 percent of GDP, mainly due to fuel
subsidies and the expansion of a public investment programme.
($1 = 480.4500 Central African Cfa francs)
(Reporting by Tansa Musa; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Tom