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Cablegate: (Sbu) Niger: Government of Canada Sends Special

VZCZCXRO7267
RR RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1183/01 3651358
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 301358Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4789
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 3473
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0563
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0770
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

d: 185202
date: 12/30/2008 13:58
refid: 08NIAMEY1183
origin: Embassy Niamey
classification: SECRET
destination: 08NIAMEY1160|08NIAMEY1166
header:
VZCZCXRO7267
RR RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1183/01 3651358
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 301358Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4789
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 3473
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0563
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0770
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
----------------- header ends ----------------
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 001183
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR AF/W, DS, INR, DS/IP/AF, EUR/CAN AND CA
PARIS FOR AF WATCHER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2018
TAGS: ASEC CASC PGOV PREL NG CA XY
SUBJECT: (SBU) NIGER: GOVERNMENT OF CANADA SENDS SPECIAL
ENVOY TO INQUIRE ABOUT MISSING CANADIANS
REF: A. NIAMEY 1166
B. NIAMEY 1160
NIAMEY 00001183 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: Ambassador Bernadette M. Allen, Reasons 1.4 b/d
1. (S) Summary. The Government of Canada (GOC) dispatched
its Deputy Foreign Minister (DFM) for La Francophonie Jacques
Bilodeau to the Republic of Niger (RON) for two days of
consultations with Government of Niger (GON) officials on the
disappearances of United Nations Special Envoy (SE) Robert
Fowler and Special Assistant Louis Guay, both Canadian
citizens. Deputy FM Bilodeau, accompanied by Canadian
Ambassador Isabelle Massip (resident in Abidjan) and
Department of Foreign Affairs International Trade Canada
(DFAIT) Middle East Division Deputy Director Louise Corbin,
called on Ambassador Allen on December 29, 2008, to express
gratitude for Embassy staff and U.S. Government support
provided to the Canadian Government with the ongoing case.
Bilodeau expects to visit Bamako, Ouagadougou and possibly
Algiers, in the next few days to meet with goverment
officials there prior to returning to Ottawa (via Paris). He
spoke of GOC frustration with the Nigerien National Police
(NP) and its unwillingness to share information with the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). He said his meeting
with GON Minister of Interior Adouba Albade wasn't useful,
but he hoped a later scheduled meeting with GON President
Mamadou Tandja would prove beneficial in securing better
cooperation from GON security officials. He was unable to
meet with GON Foreign Minister (FM) Aichatou Mindaoudou and
Minister of Justice Dagra Mamadou, both reported to be out of
town. He was scheduled to meet with Minister of National
Defense Djida Hamadou in his role as Acting FM. Bilodeau
complained that the NP had mishandled evidence in the
earliest stages of the search for the two Canadians and
Nigerien driver, Soumana Mounkaila. He stated he was
perplexed as to why the NP continued to focus solely within
Niger for the two Canadians and driver, opined that the GON
may intentionally be providing misinformation to the RCMP.
He asked Ambassador for her views about the NP actions, her
insight on how President Tandja may react in discussions of
the case and her thoughts on how this case may unravel. End
summary.
2. (C) GOC DFM for La Francophone Jacques Bilodeau,
accompanied by Canadian Ambassador Massip and DFAIT Middle
East Division DepDir Corbin, paid a December 29 call on
Ambassador Allen to express gratitude for US Embassy Niamey's
(and the US Government) support to the GOC in efforts to
locate Canadian nationals Fowler and Guay. Bilodeau (a
retired Canadian diplomat) arrived in Niamey on December 28
with a scheduled December 30 departure from Niamey to Bamako.
He said that he and Fowler have been very close friends for
over 30 years, so the case was that much more compelling for
him. Ambassador Allen responded that it was only natural for
the USG to assist the GOC as a neighbor and friend, and added
that Embassy Niamey would continue to do so.
3. (S) Bilodeau and Massip expressed frustration about the
Nigerien NP unwillingness to collaborate with RCMP
counterparts. They stated the NP demonstrated insufficient
skills to conduct a thorough investigation when it mishandled
evidence (the vehicle and materials left behind in the
vehicle) that may otherwise have been good leads in the
earlier stages of the search. They said the NP has not
shared sufficient information with the several RCMP officers
assigned to the case and, to often, simply responds that the
NP has the matter under control. They were dismayed that the
NP continues to operate under the assumption that Fowler,
Guay and Mounkaila could solely be located somewhere in
Niger. Bilodeau questioned whether the NP may be
intentionally providing misinformation to the RCMP. He
stated the Direction Generale de la Documentation and
External Security (DGDSE) that handles intelligence work
appeared more professional, but also had been guarded in its
sharing of information with the GOC. Ambassador Allen
pointed out that the various Nigerien security services
generally were not keen on sharing information with each
other, thus the NP are likely treating the RCMP in the same
light. She added that while the NP may be providing
misinformation on the case, there is also a possibility that
NIAMEY 00001183 002.2 OF 002
the Nigeriens do not want to acknowledge publicly how easy it
was for persons to slip across the border into and out of
Niger without detection by Nigerien authorities. She added
it may be a matter of "face" or pride, that the GON will not
make known its shortcomings on border security, will likely
only react if/when a public statement is made by persons
involved in the disappearances.
4. (S) Bilodeau reported that GON Minister of Interior Albade
was no help whatsoever with efforts to improve collaboration
between the NP and RCMP. He said Albade suggested Bilodeau
speak with GON Minister of Justice Dagra because the
Prosecutor General's office in Niamey falls under Dagra's
authority and is the office holding evidence collected in the
case. Bilodeau learned that Dagra was out of town.
Ambassador Allen asked about the role of FM Mindaoudou in
this matter, but Ambassador Massip responded that the FM also
was out of town, that Minister of Defense Djida was filling
the role as Acting FM. Ambassador Allen informed Bilodeau
and Massip that the FM is scheduled to host at the FM's
residence a New Year's eve event, thus likely would return to
town at some point on December 30 to prepare for the event,
but Bilodeau stated he expected to depart Niamey prior to
Mindaoudou's return.
5. (S) Bilodeau asked Ambassador Allen in what manner she
thought Tandja may behave in a discussion about the
disappearances and the NP lack of collaboration on the case.
He wanted to know how she thought the case may conclude.
Allen replied that if Tandja is defensive about the case,
then Bilodeau should expect that Tandja will be stubborn and
unhelpful in getting the NP to collaborate. She added,
however, that given the passage of time, with the case being
more than two weeks old, Tandja may now think it not a good
thing for Niger to have not resolved the case. She said he
appeared to be in high spirits following the several
successful events for the 50th Anniversary of Republic Day.
She stated Tandja may not want the GON to be viewed as
uncooperative with the Canadians, consequently be seen
internationally in a negative light. If the latter is true,
then Tandja likely will order the NP to collaborate fully
with the RCMP. Allen added that once there is public
knowledge about the whereabouts of the three men, Tandja may
not deal well with the international community knowing that
the GON security forces are unable to secure the country's
borders and the thought that the international community may
judge it unsafe to travel to Niger. As to how the case may
unravel, Allen stated it was difficult to know, but wouldn't
be surprising for a ransom demand to materialize, as had
occurred in other recent cases in the Sahel region.
6. (S) Ambassador Allen asked Massip how much longer she
would remain in Niamey. Massip replied she will remain in
Niamey until such time as the locations of the Canadians
becomes public knowledge, that she is prepared to remain in
Niger until such time it becomes necessary for her to
relocate to another capital in the region.
7. (C) There was brief discussion of the political scene as
it relates to calls for Tandja to extend his time in office
beyond the December 2009 end date for his currently
unrenewable mandate. Allen mentioned that calendar year 2009
will likely be especially active with demontrations until
such time as Tandja speaks on the matter, that his only
statement about stepping down was more than a year ago in
Paris in a "Le Monde" interview. She stated that
demonstrations for or against Tandja's prolongation of time
in office, to date, have not been violent.
8. (C) Bilodeau closed the meeting by reporting he would
travel to Bamako on December 30 to meet with Malian President
Amadou Toumani Toure about the missing Canadians.
Subsequently, he hopes to travel to Ouagadougou to speak with
Burkinabe President Blaise Compoare for his take on the case.
He raised the possibility that Algiers may be added to his
itinerary, depending upon developments, before he returns to
Ottawa (via Paris).
Minimize considered.
ALLEN
=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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