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Cablegate: Human Rights Official Discusses Recent Events

VZCZCXRO5757
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0567 1500844
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 290844Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4335
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC 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 000567

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV NG
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL DISCUSSES RECENT EVENTS

REF: (A) NIAMEY 559 (B) NIAMEY 546 (C) NIAMEY 545 (D)
NIAMEY 514

1. (U) In a May 28 meeting with DCM, Political assistant and
visiting analysts, the Vice President of the Nigerien
Association for the Defense of Human rights (known by its
French acronym ANDDH), Badie Hima, expressed concern about
recent developments.

2. (SBU) Hima is particularly worried about the elections
scheduled for next year. He complained that the National
Council for Political Dialogue (known by its French acronym
CNDP) had decided to postpone local elections scheduled for
later this year. (Note: The CNDP is comprised of
representatives of all of Niger's political parties.) Hima
described the CNDP as an "anti-constitutional" body where all
key issues are decided. The delay in voter registration
threatens the national elections scheduled for late 2009.
The GON had five years to prepare for the elections, but only
recently began any real planning. It was not clear where the
money would come from for the elections, or how the elections
could be held in the north. While local elections can only be
postponed once, for a maximum of six months, the constitution
does not allow for the postponement of national elections.

3. (SBU) Hima complained about various initiatives that are
run out of the President's office rather than through
government ministries, including the president's special
program, the malaria and HIV initiatives, and the MCC
Threshold program. DCM explained that while the GON
coordinating mechanism was located in the presidency, the
actual program would be implemented by U.S. contractors
rather than the GON.

4. (SBU) Hima said that 22 civil society groups have
organized an umbrella organization called Convergence
Citoyen. It plans to stage a large rally on June 10. It
will focus on four issues: the National Assembly's efforts to
increase its benefits (ref c); the rebellion in the north;
the high cost of living; and governance, including the
president's special program and the management of
parastatals. The groups would ask for independent audits of
those entities.

5. (SBU) GON restrictions make it much more difficult to
verify reported human rights abuses during the current
conflict than it was in the conflict of the early 1990s,
according to Hima. He had no independent information on
allegations of recent human rights violations in Tadak, but
he has received reports of human rights violations in Dabaga
and Tidene.

6. (SBU) Hima is skeptical about the circumstances
surrounding the recent MNJ kidnapping of the National Human
Rights and Fundamental Liberties Commission (known by its
French acronym CNDH/FL) Vice President Ahmoudou Ehalaweye,
and particularly whether Ehalaweye was on CNDH/FL business
when he was kidnapped (refs a, b, and d). He claimed that
Ehalaweye is illiterate and owes his job to the National
Assembly speaker. Hima wondered what Ehalaweye was doing at
11:00 at night some 60 kms from Tanout when he was reportedly
kidnapped, and speculated that Ehalaweye may have been on a
reconnaissance mission for the GON. (Note: CNDH/FL is a GON
human rights group, while the ANDDH is independent.)
ALLEN

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