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Cablegate: Niger: Government Rescinds Order to Expel Nomadic

VZCZCXRO5012
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1203 3041131
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311131Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3048
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA 1490
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0479
RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

UNCLAS NIAMEY 001203

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

AF/W FOR BACHMAN & HEFLIN; AF/FO FOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD; PRM
FOR GREENE; PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PBTS PGOV PHUM PREF PREL PTER SMIG SOCI
SUBJECT: NIGER: GOVERNMENT RESCINDS ORDER TO EXPEL NOMADIC
ARABS

REF: A. NIAMEY 1190

B. NIAMEY 904

1. The Government of Niger (GON) Council of Ministers, under
the direction of GON President Mamadou Tandja, held a special
session on Friday, October 27, to review an October 24
decision (reported reftel) that called for the expulsion of
Mahamid Arabs from the Diffa region (eastern Niger bordering
Chad). GON spokesperson, Ben Omar, announced (10/27) that
the matter is now in the hands of a commission tasked to find
a solution that provides for a peaceful coexistence between
the Mahamids and other ethnic groups in the Diffa region.

2. The GON spokesperson annouced and local media reported
the rescission of the order to expel an undetermined number
of Mahamids (ranging from several to tens of thousands) out
of Diffa to neighboring countries (most notably Chad). The
Government newspaper, "Le Sahel", reported that the Council
of Ministers decided to rescind the order after studying the
socioeconomic implications of such a move. Further the
Council decided to establish a commission to examine the
situation of the Mahamids and tasked the commission to find,
within the next 30 days, alternatives conducive to
maintaining peace between the Mahamids and other ethnic
groups in the Diffa region. The four GON Ministers assigned
to the commission are: 1) Water, Environment and Animal
Resources, 2) Interior and Decentralization, 3) Community
Development and Territorial Management, and 4) Communication.

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3. The Council of Ministers submitted to the Commission a
recommendation that the Mahamids move herds to pastures in
neighboring regions, such as Zinder and Agadez, to alleviate
some of the pressure on Diffa. The Council concluded its
special session with a declaration reaffirming that Niger is
a peaceful, stable nation and a call for Nigeriens to ensure
that the nation's "legendary hospitable image" is not
tarnished.

4. During the course of the weekend, there were reports of
peaceful protests in Diffa against the GON's repeal of its
earlier decision to expel the Mahamids. It was also reported
that members of ethnic groups (Fulani, Toubou and Kanuri)
originally from Diffa, but now resident in Niamey, also
protested the GON's rescission of the expulsion order. Local
media reported that the GON responded to the protests by
recognizing the protesters freedom of expression and,
concurrently, calling for restraint as the GON seeks a
peaceful solution to the dispute.

5. No new developments have been reported since the
weekend's peaceful protests; all appears calm.
ALLEN

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