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Cablegate: Niger: Will Elections Be Postponed?

VZCZCXYZ7007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNM #0269 0661224
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061224Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4168
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000269

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NG
SUBJECT: NIGER: WILL ELECTIONS BE POSTPONED?

REF: A. (A) 07 NIAMEY 1301 (NOTAL)
B. (B) 07 NIAMEY 1270 (NOTAL)
C. (C) 07 NIAMEY 1237 (NOTAL)

1. (U) The National Council for Political Dialogue (known by
its French acronym CNDP), which comprises all political
parties, has been meeting in closed session since late
February. It is expected to submit recommendations to the
government.

2. (SBU) There is widespread speculation about whether the
CNDP will recommend postponing elections. Niger's worst kept
secret for some time has been that the GON would likely

SIPDIS
postpone local elections scheduled for later this year. The
Prime Minister essentially told the diplomatic corps as much
in October, saying the matter would be considered by the CNDP
(ref a). This would be relatively uncontroversial, and would
save money if the local elections were held concurrently with
national elections scheduled for November and December of
2009. The elected local councils have been largely
ineffective, due both the quality of their members and the
GON's failure to implement fully its decentralization program.

3. (SBU) Postponement of the Presidential and Parliamentary
elections would be far more controversial. While President
Tandja has publicly said he would not seek to stay in office
beyond his current mandate, which ends in December 2009 (ref
b), some of his actions suggest otherwise (ref c). The
Nigerien constitution not only precludes him from serving a
third term, but explicitly does not allow amending the
section that precludes him from doing so.

4. (SBU) There is some speculation that, rather than seek a
new term, Tandja may try to extend his current term by
claiming that the country cannot afford or is otherwise
incapable of holding elections as scheduled. The ongoing
rebellion in the north could provide a justification for such
a move.

5. (SBU) Comment: Any attempt by Tandja to stay in office
beyond 2009 would elicit strong, possibly violent,
opposition. If such an attempt succeeded, it would be a major
setback in Niger's democratic transition; next year's
elections should mark the country's first transfer of power
from one elected president to another.
ALLEN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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