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Cablegate: Niger: Court Validates Referendum Results, Opposition

VZCZCXRO4551
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0596 2291706
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171706Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5264
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000596

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SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI PHUM NG
SUBJECT: Niger: Court Validates Referendum Results, Opposition
Rejects Decision and Vows to Continue Fight

Ref: a) Niamey 584, b) Niamey 582, c) Niamey 570

1. Summary: On August 14, the newly-appointed Constitutional Court
declared as valid the results of the August 4 referendum as
announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on
August 7 (ref B). While the president's supporters welcomed the
court's decision, the opposition dismissed it as a "non-event" and
vowed to fight against "President Tandja's dictatorship." End
summary.

Constitutional Court Approves Referendum Results
--------------------------------------------- ---
2. On August 14 the Constitutional Court issued a ruling approving
the results of the August 4 constitutional referendum. The court
announced that 3,704,557 (92.5 percent) voted "yes" while 300,339
(07.5 percent) voted "no" - exactly the same numbers submitted by
the CENI in its report of provisional results. The Court declared
that it "validates and proclaims the final results of the referendum
of August 4, 2009 on the draft Constitution; declares as adopted the
said draft Constitution; orders notification of this ruling to the
President of the Independent National Electoral Commission, and its
publication in the National Register of the Republic of Niger." It
is anticipated that the president will promulgate the new
constitution within eight days following the Constitutional Court's
validation of the referendum results.

Opposition: New Constitutional Court Illegal
--------------------------------------------- -
3. On August 15, the Coordination of Forces for Democracy and the
Republic (CFDR), the opposition coalition, rejected the results of
the referendum and pointed out that the new constitutional court was
illegitimate because it was illegally appointed to replace one that
constitutionally was irremovable. Iro Sani, Communication Secretary
of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS), the main
opposition party, stated that "It is a custom-made court; it only
did the work for which it was created. It has only accomplished the
mission assigned by Tandja, that is, to validate an illegal vote."
Mahamane Hamissou, a CFDR union leader, stated on a local private
radio broadcast that, "We have never recognized this court, which is
Mr. Tandja's property, and its ruling validating the purported
results of the referendum is a non-event...We will continue our
fight against the dictatorship that Tandja wants to impose on us."

Opposition to Organize Rallies against New Constitution
--------------------------------------------- ----------
4. The CFDR has already called for nationwide protests (ref A).
According to Issoufou Sidibe, leader of the Democratic Confederation
of Niger's Workers (CDTN), one of the CFDR members, the CFDR will
organize public conferences on August 19 and nationwide rallies on
August 20 against the new constitution adopted via an illegal
referendum. During these events "the people will express their
refusal to accept the specious results of the so-called
referendum...we will resist being governed by a text adopted by a
minority."

GON: Constitution Court Findings "Binding for All"
--------------------------------------------- ------
5. The GON Minister of Communication and Government Spokesperson
Mohamed Ben Omar stated that the decisions of the Constitutional
Court "are binding for all." He warned that the government would
consider as "outlaws" any opposition members who do not abide by the
laws and regulations of the Republic, and would treat them
accordingly. (Comment: President Tandja appointed the Constitutional
Court validating the August 4 referendum in July. He had dissolved
the former court because it had ruled that the referendum he
requested was non-constitutional, and hence illegal. Before
appointment, some of the new members publicly had supported the
referendum. End comment.)

ALLEN

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