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Cablegate: Niger: Mnsd Leaders Select Pm Oumarou As Interim Party

VZCZCXRO7705
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1084 3151349
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101349Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4674
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS NIAMEY 001084

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, AND DRL/AE
PLS PASS TO USAID FOR AFR/W

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI KCOR ASEC NG
SUBJECT: NIGER: MNSD LEADERS SELECT PM OUMAROU AS INTERIM PARTY
PRESIDENT; POLICE USE TEAR GAS TO QUELL SCUFFLES

REF: a) Niamey 1039, b) Niamey 1028, c) Niamey 0638

1. (U) On November 9, the ruling party Mouvement National de la
Societe de Developpement (MNSD) convened a leadership meeting at its
headquarters to select an interim party president. After a lengthy
day of consultations, party leadership selected current Prime
Minister Seini Oumarou. Party leadership decided to retain the
current party Secretary General, Habi Mahamadou Salissou, and formed
an ad hoc steering committee of six members, three each from the
pro-Hama Amadou camp and three from the pro-Tandja bloc, to guide
party matters. Participants made no effort to dismiss party
leaders, contrary to various rumors.

2. (U) Outside the MNSD headquarters, however, partisans engaged in
heated verbal exchanges, with some minor scuffling. One report
states that some present threw rocks at the Minister of Interior's
car on his arrival, causing police to use tear gas to disperse the
crowd.

3. (U) This event follows the October 19 rally by pro-Hama Amadou
supporters (Ref A) and several attempts by party leadership to
organize a party caucus to choose an interim president, as the
former prime minister remains in prison following his June 26
detention on charges of corruption (Ref B).
4. (SBU) Comment: This event, long anticipated, may serve to buy a
period of relative peace with a divided MNSD roughly one year ahead
of anticipated late 2009 legislative and presidential elections.
Raising the stature of PM Oumarou raises the question of whether
doing so elevates his standing, suggesting a potential presidential
candidacy (Ref C), or diminishes his stature, by placing him in a
position guaranteed to keep him fully occupied for the months ahead.
PM Oumarou is regarded as wise and personable, but decidedly
low-key in nature; perhaps his selection as MNSD interim president
represents widely held interest in settling party matters quickly
and quietly. The prospect of an effort by President Tandja to
extend his time in office, however, remains to be clarified. End
comment.
ALLEN

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