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Cablegate: Niger: Meeting with High Commissioner for the Restoration

VZCZCXRO1682
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0871/01 3101745
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061745Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5440
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1695
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 000871

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

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI PHUM KDEM NG
SUBJECT: Niger: Meeting with High Commissioner for the Restoration
of Peace

Ref: a) Niamey 821 b) Niamey 864 (NOTAL)

NIAMEY 00000871 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 5, Embassy Political Officer and
Specialist met with the Government of Niger (GON) High Commissioner
for the Restoration of Peace (HCRP), Mohamed Anacko. The
Commissioner spoke about the ongoing peace process, landmine
removal, fears of Al-Qaeda in the region, and efforts by the
Government of Niger (GON) to bring communities in the north
together. He opined that the State of Alert is unlikely to be
lifted in the North in the near term. End Summary.
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GON Services Lack Expertise to Extract Mines
--------------------------------------------

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2. (SBU) Anacko stated that despite a formal agreement between
President Tandja and rebels on the laying down of arms (ref a),
areas of concern remain. In the vast lands in the north, landmines
remain that need to be located and destroyed. He reported that
rebels have provided general parameters of mine locations, but can't
give exact information. Anacko emphasized that the GON will need
outside expertise, notably development partners, to assist with
landmine extraction. He expressed anger about bandits in the region
engaged in illicit activities that continue to create problems in
the North. He said drug trafficking has become a major GON concern
and blamed traffickers for the slow progress in returning to
normalcy in the North.

---------------------------------------
Maintaining Peace is GON's Primary Goal
---------------------------------------
3. (U) Anacko stated the GON would like to hold a peace forum in
Arlit, a northwestern city of Niger. He acknowledged that the GON
needs to make a better effort to sensitize the people in the
northern areas about the danger of landmines and explain the ongoing
peace process. He stated belief that many people remain fearful and
are not convinced that the rebels have indeed laid down their arms.

-------------------------------------------
Terrorists and Traffickers in the Mountains
--------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Anacko suggested that, with the completion of the peace
process, traffickers and even Al-Qaeda may maneuver to establish
bases and occupy hideouts in mountains previously used by rebels in
the North, "similar to what has occurred in Mali." He feared the
GON would not have the capability to root out these nefarious groups
on its own and would need international support. He added, "these
areas are ungoverned and difficult to travel. You should
understand, this is the same situation as one finds in the mountains
in Afghanistan."

-----------------------------
Residents Returning to Agadez
-----------------------------

5. (SBU) Anacko stated that people are able to travel to and within
the urban parts of Agadez without problems, but that travel into the
rural areas remains restricted due to landmines. He is hopeful the
rural areas will open for travel in the coming months. He stressed,
however, that he did not envision President Tandja lifting the State
of Alert in the North in the near term; that that there really isn't
a reason to do so. In the meantime, security forces will continue
to earn benefits to protect the area.

-------
Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Anacko's expressed sentiments about security in the north
and the GON's need for assistance to combat nefarious, violent
elements echo remarks the Prime Minister made in a meeting with the
Ambassador (ref b) and suggests that the GON seeks mutual engagement
on the matter with the USG. GON officials state that an AQIM
presence has been entrenched in Niger for several months, make
mention of public media reports about the USG support provided to
Malian military and security forces, and have been on one accord in
making pleas for USG assistance to its security services. End
Comment.


NIAMEY 00000871 002.2 OF 002


Allen

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