Cablegate: Niger: President Tandja Names New Prime Minister To

DE RUEHNM #0783/01 1581035
R 071035Z JUN 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) Niamey 756 (B) Niamey 737

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1. President Tandja appointed Seini Oumarou as Prime Minister to
replace Hama Amadou, who was removed by the National Assembly's no
confidence vote. The National Assembly's removal of the Prime
Minister through constitutional means is a positive sign that
Niger's relatively new democratic culture is taking hold. The move
is unlikely to result in a significant shift in government policy,
or in Amadou's chances in the 2009 presidential election. END

Out with the Old

2. On May 26, 14 opposition members of the National Assembly
submitted a motion of no confidence against the GON over its
handling of the Primary Education Ministry (MEBA) case. The
opposition claimed that the GON jeopardized the ten-year educational
development program funded by foreign donors. It also criticized the
Prime Minister and two other senior ministers for using "various
maneuvers, small tricks, and other legal quibbling" to avoid
testifying before High Court of Justice's (HCJ) investigation

3. Members of the ruling coalition tried to block action on the
motion by questioning the motion's admissibility on the grounds that
the issue was already before the HCJ
and that two of the signatories of the no confidence motion were
members of the HCJ. The speaker conferred with legal experts to
solve the impasse, but to no avail. The majority submitted a
petition to seek the Constitutional Court's advice on this issue.

4. On May 30, the Constitutional Court ruled that "1) the National
Assembly could discuss a motion of no confidence referring to a case
pending before the High Court of Justice without infringing the
constitutional principles of the separation of powers and the
independence of the judiciary. 2) the fact that two members of
parliament and the High Court of Justice sign a motion of no
confidence referring to a case pending before that court,
participate in discussions and vote thereof does not vitiate the
motion, but could render these two MPs unsuited for a seat in the
panel of judges of the High Court of Justice if they have abandoned
their duty to preserve secrecy."

5. On May 31, the National Assembly discussed and voted the motion
of no confidence. Three of the four caucuses that make up the
National Assembly asked their members to support the motion. The
tally was 62 for and 51 against. The vote was by secret ballot, but
it appears that virtually all of the opposition and many of majority
coalition voted for the motion, with the Prime Minister's support
largely limited to his MNSD party, which has 48 Assembly seats.

6. Article 89 of Niger's Constitution provides that when the
National Assembly adopts a motion of no confidence, "the Prime
Minister submits the cabinet's resignation to the President."
Article 119.10 of the National Assembly by-laws states, "the
adoption of a motion of no confidence by a majority of members of
the National Assembly automatically entails the resignation of the

7. Hama Amadou responded to the Assembly's action by stating that
"This is democracy at work. We are democrats and we hope that our
democracy continues to grow. I congratulate the opposition for
having achieved a masterstroke. A majority that lacks a soul can
only crumble. However, this is not the fall of our regime; it is
just the fall of a cabinet. I am glad to hear the PNDS's respect and
full support for President Tandja. That makes two of us."

In with the New

8. Article 45 of Niger's Constitution provides that "the President
of the Republic appoints the prime minister from a list of three (3)
officials proposed by the majority. Upon the prime minister's
proposition, he appoints the other members of the cabinet..." The
President may also choose to reiterate his trust to the dismissed
cabinet by dissolving the National Assembly (article 48 of the
constitution). In this case, new elections should be held within 45
to 90 days to renew the National Assembly.

9. On June 3, President Tandja announced the appointment of Seini
Oumarou as Prime Minister. Oumarou had been Minister of Equipment

NIAMEY 00000783 002.2 OF 002

and Infrastructure since 2004, having previously served as Minister
of Commerce from 1999 to 2004. He was born on August 9, 1950 in
Tillabery. He graduated from the Ecole Suprieure de Commerce in
Lyon, France, where he obtained his diploma of graduate studies in
business management in 1974. From 1975 to 1978, he was deputy
director of Niger Afrique, a car dealership; from 1979 to 1986, he
was director of customer relations at the national electrical
company (NIGELEC). After that, he became a private businessman,
promoter and CEO of ENITRAP paper manufacturing company from 1987 to
1998, when the company filed bankruptcy. His political career
started in 1995, when he was appointed Special Advisor to the Prime
Minister. Mr. Oumarou is a close friend of the former PM Hama Amadou
and number two in the executive board of the MNSD. He has been the
president of the MNSD Tillabery section since 2002.

10. Oumarou's appointment followed long debates and maneuvers within
each of the three caucuses that make up the majority at the National
Assembly. Each of the caucuses chose a candidate to be considered by
President Tandja, who selected Oumarou of the MNSD. The other two
candidates were Abdou Hamani of the Democratic and Social Convention
(CDS) and Ali Seyni of the "Rally of Democrats" group comprised of
three parties: the National Alliance for Democracy and Progress
(ANDP), the Social Democratic Rally (RSD), and the Rally for
Democracy and Progress (RDP). Oumarou's competitor for the MNSD nod
was reportedly former Agriculture Minister Wassalke Boukare, who is
considered close to President Tandja.

11. No legal provisions determine the regional origin or ethnic
affiliation of a candidate, but there is a tacit agreement within
the political class that when the President of Niger is from the
eastern region of the country, the prime minister should be from the
west, and vice-versa. As President Tandja comes from the east, the
prime minister should, in that spirit, be from the west. All three
proposed candidates were from the west.

12. Many of the parliamentarians who voted for the no confidence
motion expressed disappointment with Oumarou's appointment. They
did not see him a sufficient change from Amadou because he was a
senior member of the cabinet that was dismissed on May 31 and was
close to the former prime minister. They are concerned that Oumarou
may try to divert the investigation into Amadou's alleged
involvement in MEBA corruption case. Moreover, Oumarou himself has
been implicated in the MEBA case. His critics claim that he lacks
the leadership and insight required to be prime minister.

13. Oumarou had not announced a new government as of June 6. The
Ministries are currently being run by their Secretaries General.


14. The peaceful and constitutional removal of the Prime Minister is
an impressive demonstration of the respect for the rule of law in
Niger's relatively brief democratic history. We expect many of the
Ministers to be reappointed, particularly those viewed as close to
President Tandja such as Foreign Minister Mindaoudou and Finance
Minister Zeine. There is little reason to expect Amadou's removal
will mark a change in government policy, or seriously undercut his
front runner status in the 2009 presidential elections.


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