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Cablegate: Niger: Consolidating Peace in the Air and Azawak

VZCZCXRO8161
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1023/01 2551219
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121219Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2888
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUFGCIN/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 001023

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

ACCRA FOR USAID
AF/W FOR BACHMAN
INR FOR BOGOSIAN
PRM FOR POLLACK

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID EAGR SOCI SENV NG

SUBJECT: NIGER: CONSOLIDATING PEACE IN THE AIR AND AZAWAK

REF: NIAMEY 391

1. SUMMARY. MORE THAN 11 YEARS AFTER THE SIGNING OF PEACE ACCORDS,
FORMER MEMBERS OF VARIOUS TUAREG RESISTANCE FRONTS
HAVE BEGUN TO RECEIVE THE SUPPORT THEY HAVE BEEN PROMISED. ON
SEPTEMBER 8, IN A HALF-DAY CEREMONY IN AGADEZ, THE FIRST CHECKS WERE
HANDED TO THE HEADS OF 25 COOPERATIVE GROUPS. KEY GOVERNMENT OF
NIGER (GON) OFFICIALS AND REPRESENTATIVES FROM DONORS CONTRIBUTING
TO THIS TWO-YEAR, UNDP-MANAGED PROGRAM TO ASSIST 3,160 EX-REBELS
WERE IN ATTENDANCE. MUCH FANFARE AND PRESS COVERAGE WAS GIVEN TO
THIS IMPORTANT STEP IN CONSOLIDATING PEACE IN THE AIR AND AZAWAK
REGIONS. EMBASSY'S USAID CONTRACTOR REPRESENTED AMBASSADOR AT THE
CEREMONY AND PROVIDES THE FOLLOWING REPORT ON THE PACIFICATION
PROGRAM. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ----
LONG ROAD TO PUTTING CASH IN THE EX-REBELS' HANDS
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. FOLLOWING FIVE YEARS OF SPORADIC ARMED CONFLICT WITH 13 TUAREG
REBEL FRONTS, PEACE ACCORDS WERE SIGNED WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF NIGER
(GON) ON APRIL 24, 1995. THESE ACCORDS PROVIDED FOR THE INTEGRATION
OF EX-FRONT MEMBERS INTO THE GON CIVIL SERVICE AND SECURITY FORCES,
AS WELL AS CASH PAYMENTS TO SOME SENIOR FRONT COMMANDERS. NUMEROUS
MEETINGS HAVE BEEN HELD SINCE THE SIGNING OF THE ACCORDS AND THE GON
HAS ORGANIZED SEVERAL KEY EVENTS (E.G., THE "PEACE FLAME" IN 2000
WHERE ARMS COLLECTED FROM FORMER REBELS WERE BURNED IN A HUGE
BONFIRE IN AGADEZ). THE REMAINING ACTION IN SUPPORT OF THE PEACE
ACCORDS IS PROVIDING FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO 3,160 FORMER MEMBERS OF
TUAREG REBEL FRONTS.

3. IN 1994, THE GON ESTABLISHED A HIGH COMMISSION FOR THE
RESTORATION OF PEACE AND CHARGED IT WITH EXECUTING PROGRAMS TO
MAINTAIN THE PEACE WITH EX-TUAREG REBELS IN NORTHERN NIGER AND,
LATER, WITH THE 890 TOUBOU REBELS IN EASTERN NIGER (KAWAR AND MANGA
REGIONS) WHO SIGNED A PEACE AGREEMENT IN 1998. CURRENTLY, THE HEAD
OF THIS COMMISSION IS MOHAMED ANACKO, FORMER LEADER OF AN EX-TUAREG
FRONT THAT WAS ONE OF THE LAST TO SIGN THE PEACE ACCORDS. ONE OF THE
COMMISSION'S TASKS HAS BEEN TO CONDUCT A CENSUS OF ALL THE FORMER
TUAREG MEMBERS ELIGIBLE FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.

4. IT WAS AGREED THAT EACH OF THE 13 EX-TUAREG FRONTS WOULD PROVIDE
THE NAMES OF 220 PEOPLE (MEN AND WOMEN) WHO COULD BE CONSIDERED FOR
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT INCOME GENERATING ACTIVITIES. AT
PRESENT, 1,067 EX-REBELS FROM SIX FRONTS HAVE BEEN REGISTERED IN THE
AGADEZ REGION, AS HAVE 1,106 EX-REBELS FROM SEVEN FRONTS IN THE
NORTH TAHOUA-AZAWAK REGION. AS THESE FORMER FRONT MEMBERS BEGIN
RECEIVING FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE, WORK CONTINUES TO
REGISTER ADDITIONAL EX-REBELS IN PLACES AS FAR AWAY FROM AGADEZ AS
NIAMEY, TILLABERI AND ZINDER. ALTOGETHER, 11 OF THE 13 FRONTS HAVE
COMPLETED THE REGISTRATION PROCESS.

--------------------------------------------- --
COMPLEX PROCESS TO MAKE CASH WORK FOR EX-REBELS
--------------------------------------------- --

5. ACCORDING TO AGREEMENTS REACHED, EACH FORMER REBELS IS TO
RECEIVE 165,000 CFA FRANCS (USD 323) BUT THEY WOULD NOT RECEIVE THIS
SUM INDIVIDUALLY BUT AS PART OF A GREATER AMOUNT TO BE PROVIDED TO A
CO-OPERATIVE GROUP THEY HAVE FORMED WITH OTHER EX-REBELS. THESE
CO-OPS ARE GENERALLY COMPOSED OF SEVEN TO 10 MEMBERS AND THEY CAN BE
MEN OR WOMEN, OR BOTH. THEREFORE, A GROUP WITH 10 MEMBERS WOULD
RECEIVE 1,165,000 CFA (USD 3,230) UPON APPROVAL OF THEIR APPLICATION
FOR A MICRO-PROJECT. HOWEVER, THE CURRENT UNDP PROGRAM REQUIRES
THAT ONLY 80 PERCENT OF THIS AMOUNT BE PROVIDED, WITH THE REMAINING
20 PERCENT TO BE GRANTED FOLLOWING AN EVALUATION OF THE
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE APPROVED ACTIVITY.

6. TO DATE, MICRO-PROJECTS HAVE BEEN APPROVED FOR 106 CO-OPS IN THE
AGADEZ REGION AND 104 CO-OPS IN THE AZAWAK REGION. ALTOGETHER,
2,173 EX-REBELS ARE MEMBERS OF THESE 210 CO-OPS AND THE ACTIVITIES
THEY WILL BE PURSUING INCLUDE CEREALS BANKS, COMMUNITY GARDENS,
LIVESTOCK MARKETING, STORES FOR THE SALE OF AGRICULTURAL INPUTS,
ETC. THE HEAVY AND COMPLEX ADMINISTRATIVE BURDEN OF PROCESSING AND
FOLLOWING UP ON THE WORK OF ALL THESE CO-OPS AND THEIR ACTIVITIES IS
OBVIOUS. THIS BURDEN IS EVEN GREATER WHEN ONE CONSIDERS THAT THE
GEOGRAPHIC AREA COVERED BY A DOZEN PROJECT STAFF IS ABOUT 250,000
SQUARE KILOMETERS (AN AREA LARGER THAN THE STATES OF VIRGINIA AND
MARYLAND COMBINED.)

--------------------------------------------- --
EX-REBELS COMPLAIN CASH IS TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
--------------------------------------------- --

7. THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THIS USD 1.6 MILLION, TWO-YEAR PROJECT
(NOW NEARING THE END OF ITS FIRST YEAR) WILL BE SEVERELY CHALLENGED

NIAMEY 00001023 002 OF 002


TO CONTINUE THE IMPLEMENTATION MOMENTUM AND VERIFICATION THAT THE
FUNDS PROVIDED WILL GO FOR THE PURPOSES INTENDED. THE 25 CHECKS,
DISTRIBUTED WITH MUCH FANFARE ON SEPTEMBER 8, ARE A FIRST STEP IN
WHAT COULD BECOME A LONG PROCESS. TWO YEARS IS PROBABLY NOT ENOUGH
TIME TO COMPLETE THIS PROCESS AND THE UNDP CLAIMS THE PROJECT IS
SHORT-FUNDED BY ABOUT USD 220,000.

8. CURRENT CONTRIBUTORS AND THE AMOUNTS PROVIDED TO THIS EFFORT TO
CONSOLIDATE PEACE IN THE AIR AND AZAWAK REGIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS: GON
(USD 157,000); UNDP (USD 580,000); FRANCE (USD 360,000); LIBYA (USD
318,000); AND, U.S. (USD 225,000). THE U.S. CONTRIBUTION REPRESENTS
ONE OF THE FIRST DISBURSEMENTS OF FUNDS MADE UNDER THE TRANS-SAHARA
COUNTER TERRORISM PARTNERSHIP (TSCTP). POST HAS SUBMITTED A REQUEST
FOR AN ADDIITONAL USD 200,000 IN ESF FUNDING TO PROVIDE FURTHER
SUPPORT THIS PROGRAM (REFTEL).

--------------------------------------------- ----
KEEPING THE PEACE REQUIRES A SUSTAINED COMMITMENT
--------------------------------------------- ----

9. THE FUNDING ISSUE IS FURTHER COMPLICATED BY THE STRONG FEELING
AMONG EX-REBEL GROUPS THAT THE MONEY THEY ARE FINALLY RECEIVING IS
INADEQUATE TO MEET THEIR NEEDS. DURING THE SEPTEMBER 8 CEREMONY
EX-FRONT LEADERS SAID IN THEIR SPEECHES THAT THEY ARE STRONGLY
COMMITTED TO PEACE BUT THAT THE AMOUNTS THEY ARE NOW RECEIVING AFTER
WAITING OVER 11 YEARS ARE JUST TOO LITTLE. ONE GROUP LEADER REFERRED
TO THE AMOUNT OF MONEY BEING PROVIDED TO EACH EX-REBEL AS
RIDICULOUSLY SMALL. WHILE IT IS CLEAR THEY ARE HAPPY TO BE
RECEIVING SOMETHING, IT IS ALSO CLEAR THAT THEY WERE EXPECTING A
MUCH HIGHER PEACE DIVIDEND.

10. COMMENT. KEEPING THE PEACE IN THE AIR AND AZAWAK REGIONS WILL
REQUIRE MORE THAN A TWO-YEAR, USD TWO MILLION PROJECT, A SUM OF
MONEY CONSIDERED PALTRY BY FORMER REBELS. IT REMAINS AN OPEN
QUESTION HOW MUCH MORE WILL BE NEEDED TO MAINTAIN THE PEACE AND IT
MAY BE THAT EVEN MUCH MORE MAY NOT BE ENOUGH. AS NOTED IN HIGH
COMMISSIONER ANACKO'S REMARKS AT THE SEPTEMBER 8 CEREMONY IN AGADEZ,
POVERTY AND MISERY WERE THE UNDERLYING CAUSES TO THE TUAREQ
REBELLION. ADDRESSING ADEQUATELY THESE CAUSES WILL TAKE MANY YEARS
OF CONSISTENT HIGH LEVELS OF INVESTMENT, FROM BOTH PUBLIC AND
PRIVATE SOURCES. NONETHELESS, DONORS SHOULD CONTINUE IN THE MONTHS
AND YEARS AHEAD TO EXPAND THEIR WORK WITH THE GON TO SUPPORT THE
MAINTENANCE OF PEACE IN NIGER'S AIR AND AZAWAK REGIONS. END
COMMENT.
ALLEN

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