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Cablegate: Prime Minister and Two Cabinet Ministers Resign to Run For

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TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI NG
SUBJECT: Prime Minister and Two Cabinet Ministers Resign To Run for
Legislative Office

1. (U) On September 23, President Tandja accepted the resignation of
three key cabinet members during a ceremony at the Prime Minister's
Office. Prime Minister Seini Oumarou, Minister of Communications
and Government Spokesperson Mohamed Ben Omar, and Minister of
Religious Affairs and Humanitarian Assistance Issaka Labo resigned
to become eligible to run in the October 20 National Assembly
elections. President Tandja publicly awarded them National Medals
of Merit, and lauded them for "serving with the highest honor." The
GON announced that Minister of Interior Albade Abouba will serve as
interim Prime Minister. ( Note: Abouba is reported to be serving as
the nominal interim Head of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and
Humanitarian Assistance. End note.)

2. (SBU) Comment: Before the new constitution was adopted on August
4, the position of Prime Minister carried considerable clout.
According to Article 59 of the 1999 constitution, "The Prime
Minister is the Head of Government. He directs and coordinates
government actions. He provides for law enforcement. He may
delegate certain powers to ministers." In the new constitution,
however, his role is not clearly defined. It states that, "the
Prime Minister coordinates government actions" and can only exercise
powers delegated by the President. Former PM Oumarou, who is the
president of ruling party, Mouvement National pour la Societe de
Developpement (MNSD), will likely gain election and serve as
majority whip in the National Assembly. This position may be more
influential than that of Prime Minister, now largely a ceremonial
role. His presence in the National Assembly, along with other
ministers, is expected to help President Tandja secure a
parliamentary majority and pass key legislation. End comment.

Allen

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