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Cablegate: President Tandja Appoints New Cabinet Members

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RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0819 2861924
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131924Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5382
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1673
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000819

DEPT FOR AF/W AND AF/RSA
PLS PASS TO USAID FOR AFR/W
ACCRA ALSO FOR USAID/WA
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU - J MAYBURY
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI NG
SUBJECT: President Tandja Appoints New Cabinet Members

Ref: Niamey 00701

1. (U) On October 10, President Tandja appointed Kassoum Mamane
Moctar to serve as Minister of Communication and Government
Spokesperson. He also appointed Salah Ben Mamouda Ali to serve as
Minister of Religious Affairs and Humanitarian Action. The two
appointees replace Mohamed Ben Omar and Issaka Labo, both of whom
resigned September 23 to become eligible to run in the legislative
elections slated for October 20 (reftel).

2. (U) The appointment of Kassoum, 31, has caused uproar among
opposition members. According to local media accounts, critics
argue that Kassoum has no experience in the public arena and lacks
the needed education level to carry out such a high-level function.
(Note: Kassoum does not hold a college-level degree. End note.)
Before his appointment as Minister of Communication, Kassoum was a
youth leader, and took part in several marches in support of
President Tandja's bid to change the constitution to extend his term
in office. Mamouda, however, is a relatively unknown public figure,
and thus has eluded such criticism, at least for the time being.

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