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Cablegate: Nigeria Offers Aristide a "Staging Post" for a Few

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 000506

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL HA NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA OFFERS ARISTIDE A "STAGING POST" FOR A FEW
WEEKS


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR PUBLICATION ON THE
INTERNET OR INTRANET.

1. (SBU) In response to what it said was a request from the
Caribbean Economic Community (CARICOM), on March 22 the GON
offered Haitian ex-president Aristide refuge in Nigeria for a
few weeks before moving on to another destination. President
Obasanjo's press spokesman, Oluremi ("Remi") Oyo, issued a
press release (text below) to that effect and said much the
same thing in interviews carried by BBC radio and other
outlets.

2. (SBU) The press release says the GON agreed after
consultations with African leaders, the African Union
leadership, the USG and "other concerned authorities." Staff
at the Foreign Ministry and at the office of the National
Security Advisor told us March 23 they learned of the offer
from the press, and know nothing about such consultations.
The Presidency told us Aristide has not yet responded to the
offer (as of noon March 23), and said it had no information
on the USG and other consultations mentioned in the press
release.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: Two items seem important: Will Aristide
come, and if so under what terms? Confusion over what was
agreed when Charles Taylor came to Nigeria has long been a
problem. Taylor is not the only political exile in Nigeria,
which has a history of offering asylum to fleeing leaders.
Post requests guidance from the Department on discussing
Aristide with the GON, and talking points for the public on
whatever USG role there may or may not have been in the
Nigerian offer to Aristide.

4. (U) Begin text of the Nigerian Presidency press release:

NIGERIA GRANTS CARICOM REQUEST ON FORMER HAITIAN LEADER

The Caribbean Economic Community (CARICOM) under the
leadership of Prime Minister P.J. Patterson of Jamaica, has
requested Nigeria to consider giving former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti "a staging post" for a few
weeks until his movement to another destination.

After receiving the CARICOM request, Nigeria undertook
widespread consultations with African leaders, the leadership
of the African Union, the U.S. Government and other concerned
authorities.

Following the concurrence received after those consultations,
Nigeria has agreed to grant the request from CARICOM.

Oluremi Oyo (Mrs.)
SSA to the President

end text.
ROBERTS

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