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Cablegate: Niger: Opposition November 22 Rally in Niamey

VZCZCXRO6120
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0936 3271642
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231642Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5476
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000936

DEPT FOR AF/W AND AF/RSA; PLS PASS TO USAID FOR AFR/W
ACCRA ALSO FOR USAID/WA
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI PHUM NG
SUBJECT: Niger: Opposition November 22 Rally in Niamey

Ref: a) Niamey 826 b) Niamey 630 c) Niamey 618

1. Summary: On November 22, the Coordination of Forces for
Democracy and the Republic (CFDR) organized a rally in Niamey to
demand that President Tandja step down on December 22, the end of
his term of office under the constitution of the 5th Republic, which
was supplanted by that of the 6th Republic by means of the August 4
referendum. The CFDR also used the event to affirm its support for
ECOWAS' mediation of Niger's political crisis and expressed its
willingness to negotiate with the Government of Niger (GON). End
summary.

3,000 Rally to Demand President Tandja Step Down
--------------------------------------------- ---
2. On November 22, one month before the end of President Tandja's
second and last term in office under the constitution of the 5th
Republic, over 3,000 protesters gathered in Niamey to demand that
President Tandja step down from power on December 22. President
Tandja, who otherwise would be leaving office in December, obtained
a three-year extension via a controversial August 4 referendum that
ushered in a new constitution, establishing the 6th Republic.
During the rally, Bazoum Mohamed, Vice President of the Nigerien
Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS), delivered the CFDR's
keynote remarks, which stated that "the Nigerien people would have
been at the eve of a major event - that of a democratic alternation
in power, within a context of social peace...with legitimate pride
to have taken, year after year since 1999, decisive actions in
building democracy and the rule of law. Unfortunately, one man's
megalomania...led him to throw us into an unprecedented political
and social crisis...Therefore, our struggle is just, because it aims
to restore the rule of law, basic freedoms, and constitutional
legality provided by the fundamental law of August 9, 1999."
Members of the opposition vowed to put an end to the current
"autocratic drive" and noted that after December 22, President
Tandja would lose legitimacy.

Opposition Welcomes ECOWAS Role, Mediator
-----------------------------------------
3. At the same time, the CFDR reminded supporters that it had
responded to ECOWAS mediator former Nigerian head of state General
Abdul Salami Abubakar's call for consultations and declared that it
"favorably welcomed the mediation engaged by ECOWAS and believes
that this is the final opportunity to broker peace in Niger, and
that President Tandja and his clan would be wrong to spurn it." He
added, "We are determined to accompany the mediator's efforts in
finding a way out of the crisis based on dialogue and respect for
the rule of law and democratic principles."

GON: No Return to 5th Republic in Cards
----------------------------------------
4. Responding to the CFDR's statement, the GON Minister of
Communication and Government Spokesperson, Moctar Kassoum, indicated
in a BBC Hausa interview on November 22 that returning to the 5th
Republic (Note: the one based on the August 1999 constitution. End
note.) would be out of the question, and that the GON would not back
down.

Comment:
--------
5. The CFDR's rally, which occurred immediately after the ECOWAS
mediator's departure from Niger, took place while three key
opposition figures - Mahamadou Issoufou, Mahamane Ousmane, and Hama
Amadou - embarked on missions to gain international support in
Paris, New York, and Paris, respectively. The rally proceeded
peacefully, without violence or arrests. End comment.

ALLEN

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