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Cablegate: Delta Update for October 1

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 002016

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EPET CASC PGOV MOPS NI
SUBJECT: DELTA UPDATE FOR OCTOBER 1

REF: A. LAGOS 2013
B. ABUJA 1675
C. ABUJA 1673
D. LAGOS 1998
E. LAGOS 1982
F. LAGOS 1978
G. ABUJA 1656
H. ABUJA 1486
I. LAGOS 1892
J. LAGOS 1820

Summary
---------

1. (SBU) The Port Harcourt area has been quiet and tensions
have diminished from earlier this week as Nigeria celebrates
October 1, its 44th Independence Day. Local press continues
to report that the GON flew Niger Delta Vigilante Group
(NDVG) leader Ateke Tom (the primary rival of Dokubo Asari)
to Abuja for talks with the GON. In his Independence Day
speech, President Obasanjo stated the need to engage in
dialogue to resolve popular grievances in the Niger Delta,
and deliver the dividends of democracy to the impoverished
region. Indicating the GON was using a carrot and stick
approach, press reports suggest the military has established
a presence in Asari's home village.

Security Update
----------------

2. (U) According to the local press, the GON flew the
NDVG's Ateke Tom, to Abuja to widen the scope of the peace
talks.

3. (U) There are no reports of any fighting in the area.
In several published interviews, Asari stated that peace
talks had been cordial, but the duration of the cease-fire
was contingent on the GON meeting his demands for a sovereign
national conference and for significantly more local control
over oil resources.

Reports from the Energy Sector
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) On October 1, the Shell Managing Director told us
that the cease-fire seemed to be holding, and Port Harcourt
was calm. An AGIP Security Manager confirmed that Port
Harcourt was calm, and AGIP employees were going about their
normal business. The Cooper Cameron Country Manager
indicated their employees were also carrying out their
normal activities. Late September 30, Chevron Texaco General
Manager for Public and Government Affairs confirmed that the
situation around Chevron Texaco facilities remained calm.

Press Report - Obasanjo: "A Rapprochement is Taking Place"
--------------------------------------------- --------------

5. (SBU) Local newspaper "This Day" published excerpts from
President Obasanjo's Independence Day address. President
Obasanjo emphasized the need to respond to grievances in the
Delta region: "We are talking to those I described as
rascally elements from the Niger Delta in the efforts to open
lines of dialogue and peace as they feel aggrieved by their
authorities." However, he stressed that the GON would not
tolerate "acts that would mortgage or compromise the
interests of the majority." He also reassured listeners that
peace negotiations were continuing, while appealing to Delta
officials to respond to the needs of their communities: "A
rapprochement is taking place, and peace, stability and
harmony will return to the Niger Delta. The obvious
assessment so far is that not much impact has been made on
the lives and living standards of most ordinary people of the
Niger Delta. In the interest of security and stability of
the Niger Delta in particular and Nigeria in general, I
appeal to those elected official of the region whose efforts
are not measured up to expectations, to endeavour to be seen
to be more alive to their responsibilities and the plight of
the people they are elected to govern." (Comment: To some
extent, Obasanjo likely offered this explanation in an
attempt, not only to reassure the public, but to respond to
criticism that by opening dialogue with the militants, he was
only encouraging future miscreancy. It is also noteworthy
that he primarily blamed local and state elected officials
for the sorry state of affairs in the Delta. End comment.)

6. (SBU) However, signally that his government was using a
carrot and stick approach, the GON sent a not so subtle
reminder to Asari and others. Newspapers report that a
significant military presence has been established in Asari's
village of Buguma.

ACS
----

7. (SBU) No incidents involving AMCITs have been reported.
BROWNE

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