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Cablegate: Niger: Diplomatic Corps Attendance Thin at The

VZCZCXRO9855
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0618/01 2361605
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241605Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5272
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1647
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0859
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 000618

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W; PLEASE PASS TO USAID/WA
ACCRA ALSO FOR USAID/WA
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU - J MAYBURY
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI KDEM CASC ASEC NG
SUBJECT: NIGER: DIPLOMATIC CORPS ATTENDANCE THIN AT THE
PRIME MINISTER'S SWEARING IN CEREMONY FOR THE SIX REPUBLIC;
OPPOSITION CONTINUES TO CHALLENGE NEW CONSTITUTION AS
PROTESTS MEET VIOLENT POLICE RESPONSE

REF: A. NIAMEY 611
B. NIAMEY 609
C. NIAMEY 599
D. NIAMEY 596
E. NIAMEY 584
F. NIAMEY 378

NIAMEY 00000618 001.2 OF 002


1. Summary. Government of Niger (GON) President Mamadou
Tandja presided over an August 21 swearing-in ceremony to
install Prime Minister Seini Oumarou for the Sixth Republic
of Niger (ref a). The GON extended invitations to the
diplomatic corps and international organization senior
representatives, but attendance was thin. Despite the GON's
ban of an opposition rally on August 22, the latter defied
the GON's decision and confronted police. The Coordination
of Forces for Democracy and the Republic (CFDR), an
opposition coalition of political parties, civil society
organizations and labor unions, continues to challenge the
controversial constitution enacted by President Tandja (ref
C) via a series of activities in order to denounce "the coup
that he perpetrated." End summary.

2. The August 21 swearing-in ceremony for Prime Minister
Seini Oumarou was broadcast on state television, Tele-Sahel.
In attendance were GON officials (cabinet members, leaders of
GON institutions) and a thin representation of the diplomatic
corps and international organizations. Only four embassies
(Algeria, Libya, France and Benin), including the Algerian
and Libyan ambassadors and charges d'affaires for France (the
Ambassador has been out of the country on R&R) and Benin, and
three IOs were present at the ceremony;

3. On August 22, in Niamey, CFDR attempted to conduct a
rally before the National Assembly in protest of the new
constitution in spite of the municipal authorities' ban, but
the police forces deployed across the city prevented the
gathering. When the protesters tried to reassemble at
another venue, the police used teargas and batons to disperse
the crowd and made several arrests. The controntation
between demonstrators and the police, and the reported
manhunt engaged by the latter, lasted several hours. Similar
demonstrations were held in other regions of the country,
also resulting in violence and leading to several arrests.
Overall, based on Embassy staff inquiries and observations,
the collective number of protesters in Niamey and other
regions amounted to less than 1500, with no locale reaching
numbers above 500. Total number of arrests reported to date
in Niamey and the other regions of the country amount to 41;
Niamey (16), Tahoua (14) and Tillabery (11). Among those
arrested were former member of parliament Soumana Sanda, a
staunch supporter of former Prime Minister Hama Amadou, and
Mamane Wada, Secretary General of the Nigerien Association
for the Fight Against Corruption (Niger's chapter of
Transparency International), who is also Secretary General of
the United Front for the Protection of Democratic Gains
(FUSAD, the movement led by jailed activist Marou Amadou (ref
e). In other locales, reportedly the police arrived at the
rally points before protesters and prevented the
demonstrations from taking place.

4. On August 24, the CFDR held a town hall meeting during
which it took a resolution to reinstate the National Assembly
that was dissolved last May (ref f) "due to President
Tandja's failure to organize legislative elections within
ninety days as mandated by the Constitution." The CFDR
reported that the government had arrested or jailed 150
opposition members since the beginning of the protests
against the referendum for a new constitution. According to
the CFDR as of August 24, fifty-four (54) opposition members
are detained in prison or in police custody. The CFDR
indicated that this is evidence that "Tandja's regime can
sustain itself only through violence... but this will be a
short-lived situation" because the opposition will continue
fighting until it restores democracy. About fifty (50)
former parliamentarians from the dissolved National Assembly
participated in the town hall meeting. Mahamadou Issoufou,
the opposition leader, said, "No violence, no repression, no

NIAMEY 00000618 002.2 OF 002


intimidation can stop the CFDR's resolve to fight (Tandja's)
autocratic moves." Issoufou stated that Tandja would be held
responsible for the deterioration of the country's stability
and for any sanctions against the Republic of Niger. He
further called for the release of all those detained.

5. The CFDR does not appear to have the capability to
reinstate the dissovled National Assembly, consequently its
decision can only be interpreted as a symbolic gesture with
the hope of attracting national and international attention
on Niger's political environment.

6. The Inter-Union of Niger's Workers (ITN), a coalitiona of
the country's seven trade union confederations, called a
strike for the period of August 26-28 in order to press the
GON to address the following claims: the implementation of
the March 2009 agreement between the GON and labor unions; 50
percent reduction of income tax on salaries and benefits; 50
percent increase on salaries and pensions; employment for all
young graduates; and creation of a health union for
government workers. (Comment: To date, unions' calls for
strikes have not produced large-scale participation and,
during the Ramadan period, the ability to rally members may
prove even more challenging. End comment.)

7. ITN is a member of the CFDR. When asked whether the
unions' claims are linked to the current political context,
leaders responded that their strike was indirectly related to
the political situation beacause the new Constitution
provides for new institutions (e.g., the Senate, the Council
of Youth, the Council of Traditional Chiefs) that require a
budget and other resources; therefore it appears the GON has
resources to effect salary increases in order to improve
workers' living conditions.

(Note: The ECOWAS opened a ministerial meeting on Niger in
Abuja, Nigeria. Several rights activists and other advocates
have traveled to Abuja to press the meeting attendees to
adopt constraining sanctions against the Republic of Niger.
ALLEN

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