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Cablegate: Niger: Former High Commissioner for Restoration of Peace

VZCZCXRO8346
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0033/01 0141911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141911Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5573
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1722
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 000033

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

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MOPS ECON SNAR SOCI PHUM KHDP ML AG NG
SUBJECT: Niger: Former High Commissioner for Restoration of Peace
Provides Update on the North

Ref: a) 09 Niamey 871, b) 09 Niamey 821, c) 09 Algiers 948

1. (SBU) Summary: On January 14, current National Assembly Deputy
and former High Commissioner for the Restoration of Peace (HCRP)
Mohamed Anacko met with DCM at the Chancery; Poloff and LES Pol
Specialist also participated. The former Commissioner spoke about
the successful culmination of the peace process in Niger's North,
wherein all three rebel groups had reached peace agreements with the
Government of Niger (GON) and disarmed. In the void left by rebels,
he argued that terrorists might seek refuge in Niger's Air
Mountains. DCM noted the importance of regional coordination and
cooperation to counter the mobile and amorphous threat posed by
terrorists. Anacko also discussed the need for international
assistance for humanitarian demining to provide increased safety and
the lack of a rebel reintegration plan by the Government of Niger
(GON). He also opined that if no such plan is developed, peace in
the North would be short-lived. End summary.

Peace has Returned to the North
-------------------------------
2. (SBU) Anacko called on DCM at the Chancery on January 14 in a
meeting that included PolOff and Pol Specialist; he stated that the
last insurgent group to lay down their weapons, the Front of Forces
for Rectification (FFR) was disarmed in late December in Arlit, a
town located in the North. Anacko stated that the GON had made
considerable progress and that tourists are returning to the region,
being able to travel to and within the urban parts of Agadez without
problems. He stated his belief that Nigeriens are no longer fearful
of the rebel groups; they recognize that their members have indeed
laid down their arms and do not wish to resort to violence. Anacko
said, however, that tourists are still worried about stability in
the area, and are weary to travel to the region. Bandits continue
to engage in illicit activities in the North; however, he added,
this cycle of banditry is normal given the long period of violence
that occurred in the region. (Note: Anacko's description of
circumstances in the North and the status of rebel peace talks and
disarmament as of the fall of 2009 are discussed in refs A and b).
End note.)

Demining Experts Needed to Clear Vast Areas
-------------------------------------------
3. (SBU) Anacko stated that throughout the vast lands in the north,
rebels had left mines that still needed to be located and destroyed.
He mentioned that rebels were able to indicate the general
perimeter of areas where mines were placed, but could not give exact
locations. Anacko mentioned that the GON had received assurances
from the European Union and other development partners of receiving
technical expertise to help demine these vast areas.

Government Needs to Develop Action Plan
---------------------------------------
4. (SBU) Anacko stated that the GON needs to make a better effort to
plan for the reintegration of former rebel members into society. He
stated that rebels needed a way to support their families. When
pressed for more specifics, he said that the Government should
create training schools to teach former rebels technical skills.
These skills could then be used to gain employment at one of the
multinational enterprises operating in the North.

Terrorist Elements in the North
-------------------------------
5. (SBU) Anacko stated that although there was a formal disarmament
agreement between President Tandja and rebels, that there are still
areas for concern. When pressed for details, Anacko mentioned that
there will be a void left by the peace process. He said that
traffickers and even Al-Qaida may be tempted to occupy bases and
hideouts that were used previously by rebels in the North. He
mentioned that this was a vulnerability for the GON, which might be
hard-pressed to counter. He said that the GON did not have the
means to deal effectively with terrorist organizations and that the
GON would welcome international support; he further underscored the
need for better regional cooperation. He went on to say terrorists
may seek to hide in the Air Mountains as alternative to taking
refuge in Mali.

GON Urged to Engage in Tamanrassett, Regional Approach
---------------------------------------------
6. (SBU) DCM urged Anacko to support the participation of the GON in
the Algerian-backed regional approach to countering terrorism (ref
C), and to support the deferred heads of state meeting on the same

NIAMEY 00000033 002 OF 002


topic in Bamako. Regional coordination and cooperation were
essential, he noted, to deal with this mobile and amorphous threat.

Comment
-------
7. (SBU) Anacko noted the gap between the "political tensions"
between the United States and Niger and the "economic and security
realities." He hinted that President Tandja would be "sensitive" to
advice and/or funding from the USG in any areas. Given that
traffickers and even Al-Qaida might be tempted to recruit former
rebels, development of technical schools that would train former
rebels in vocational skills would be beneficial for both the GON and
the USG. End comment.

Allen

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