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Cablegate: Niger Security Update -- December 12

VZCZCXRO0062
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1453/01 3461539
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121539Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3961
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0625
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 001453

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/W, INR/AA AND DS/ITA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MOPS PTER PGOV NG
SUBJECT: NIGER SECURITY UPDATE -- DECEMBER 12

REF: (A) NIAMEY 1446 (B) NIAMEY 1412

NIAMEY 00001453 001.2 OF 002


--------------------------------------
MNJ threatens Republic day festivities
--------------------------------------

1. (U) On postings on its web site, the MNJ has denied
planting the landmine in Tahoua and blamed the Nigerien Armed
Forces (FAN) for the mine, as it had previously done
regarding the Maradi landmine (ref A). It also warned
against the GON going ahead with the December 18 Republic Day
festivities in Tahoua. (FYI: Tahoua is some 400 kms by road
northeast of Niamey. It is predominantly Hausa, but has a
large Tuareg minority. Starting with last year's Republic
Day celebration in Zinder, the festivities are to be rotated
among the various regional capitals.)

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Donors compare notes
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2. (SBU) Recent security incidents were the lead item on the
agenda for the monthly donors' meeting on December 12.
Following are some highlights:

-- The person killed by the landmine in Tahoua was working on
an EU financed project and was driving an EU project vehicle.
He was the son of a former Defense Minister. There is no
indication that he was targeted based on working on the EU
project or being the son of a former minister; he was
apparently just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

-- The vehicle struck the mine on the access road to the VIP
parking area of the wrestling stadium where some of the
December 18 Republic Day festivities are scheduled to take
place.

-- There was a rumor (which we are trying to run down) that
17 landmines have been found in Tahoua since the landmine
incident there.

-- Many Embassies have restricted travel and issued warnings
to their citizens following the Maradi and Tahoua landmine
incidents.

-- The French Ambassador is currently in Maradi. He had
planned to travel on to Zinder, but will probably return to
Niamey.

-- One aid official reported hearing that the families of
those killed in the December 9 incident in the north have
reported that the vehicles in which the people were driving
did not have bullet holes, and that the wounds of those
killed were "precise." If true, this would lend credence to
the MNJ claims that the men did not die in a firefight, but
were executed.

----------------------------------------
Diplomatic Corps to raise security issues
----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) There was a consensus at the donor's meeting that
the diplomatic corps as a group should raise its concerns
about the security situation, including what measures the GON
is taking to address security concerns. The Ambassador has
contacted the Chadian Ambassador, as dean of the diplomatic
corps, regarding the arrangement of a meeting with
appropriate senior GON officials.

--------------------------------------
New rebel group, or just a new website?
--------------------------------------

4. (U) A new website (www.fpln.blogspot.com) appeared
December 10 belonging to the previously unknown "Front des
Patriotes pour la Liberation du Niger (FPLN)." The group
says that it initially reacted to the creation of the MNJ by
questioning its demands, but in fact those demands are
justified. It claims to be a "political-military movement."
It says that Tandja refuses to negotiate, and thus other
means must be used to bring him to his senses, or even make
him return to his homeland of Mauritania. (FYI: Tandja was
born in Niger of a Nigerien mother, but his father was
Mauritanian.) The group refers to issues associated with

NIAMEY 00001453 002.2 OF 002


gold mining in its region. It claims to have a military wing
with an experienced former Nigerien Armed Forces officer at
the head of some 1,000 young Nigeriens. The political wing
includes Nigeriens both in Niger and abroad. It claims to
have received assistance from neighboring countries (which
are not named).

5. (SBU) Comment: The reference to gold mining areas suggests
the FPLN is based in the predominately Zarma area of western
Niger. The MNJ has previously called on people of the west
for support. The group may reflect discontent on the part of
Zarma for what they see as President Tandja's campaign
against former Prime Minister Amadou, who is from the west,
as well as the anti-corruption campaign that has so far
mainly targeted officials considered close to Amadou (ref B).
We are skeptical of the FPLN's claim to have a 1,000 men
under arms, but do not dismiss the possibility that it may
have a military capability.


6. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.
ALLEN

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