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Cablegate: Niger: President Tandja's New Year Address of Dip Corps:

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RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0072/01 0290735
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 290735Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5594
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1726

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NIAMEY 000072

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

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID SNAR KCRM EAGR SOCI NG
SUBJECT: Niger: President Tandja's New Year Address of Dip Corps:
Rationalizing, Scolding, and Warning

Ref: a) 09 Niamey 0044, b) 09 Niamey 0899, c) 09 Niamey 1008

1. (SBU) Summary: On January 13, President Tandja accepted the
greetings of the Dean of the diplomatic corps and addressed the
assembled group in his customary manner. Although most of his
remarks offered a lengthy defense for his anti-democratic political
maneuverings of the past year, he argued that they had occurred at
the behest of the people. President Tandja, somewhat surprisingly,
scolded some for not observing protocol and warned in general
against interference in the nation's internal affairs. He went on
to temper this threat, urging the diplomatic community to continue
its efforts to strengthen the friendship and partnership that
Nigeriens have come to welcome and enjoy. President Tandja also
recalled with pride success in ending the conflict with rebel groups
in the north, noted the role of trafficking in drugs and arms in
insecurity, and mentioned rising commodity prices due to climate
change and poor weather conditions. End summary.

2. (U) After receiving the customary New Year's greetings from the
Dean of the diplomatic corps, the Algerian ambassador, President
Tandja presented his remarks to the diplomatic corps, other than the
United States and Canada, which both elected not to participate,
His remarks were as follows:

(Begin text)
Mr Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen members of diplomatic and consular missions;
Ladies and gentlemen representatives of international and regional
organizations;
We thank the All Mighty and the All Merciful, who once again has
provided us with the opportunity to meet again, to share this solemn
moment devoted to the ceremony to present New Year wishes. Having
respected this tradition with the heads of the institutions of the
Republic, the current ceremony with the diplomatic corps is of
special significance to us. As a matter of fact, it enables us to
express our constant friendship and renewed gratitude to you for the
invaluable cooperation which Niger has always benefited from each
one of the countries and institutions you represent, a friendship
and gratitude for which we have always worked together in the
context of solidarity and international cooperation, for the
improvement of the livelihood of Niger's people. This meeting also
provides the opportunity to evoke, in a sort of direct dialogue, the
major events that characterized national life by paying particular
attention to the observations, which you as privileged observers,
have to make on the development of this country in terms of the
achievements made, the perspectives for Niger and its people, and
the challenges to meet.
First of all, I would like to thank you, Mr Dean, for the good
wishes you expressed, on behalf of your colleagues, to Niger and its
people, to the officials in charge of the Institutions of the
Republic, and to myself for the new year. Please receive in return,
my equally warm wishes to all of you, your respective families and
to the authorities of the countries and institutions you represent.
May the year 2010 bring to all of us, good health and success in our
endeavors, so that in peace and mutual comprehension, the noble
ambitions you entertain for the progress of our people and the whole
of mankind may be accomplished.
Mr Dean,
You noted, with good reason, that Niger experienced a particularly
intense 2009, both politically and economically.
In either instance, considering the highly significant actions the
people of Niger made in a patriotic drive, it is with a renewed
confidence in our capacity to meet the important challenges our
Nation is facing that we are starting this year 2010. The major
fact, in this firm resolve, remains that the people expressed
themselves in the August 4 referendum in favor of the radical reform
of the Republic. The choice results from a healthy analysis of
democratic practice in Niger and is translated by the option to see
the conduct of government affairs carried out in a new spirit which
puts an end to the institutional mechanism relying on compromises
and bargaining so cherished by certain political leaders but which
does not serve the national interest. Therefore, on the occasion of
this referendum, Niger's people expressed themselves in complete
freedom in the exercise of their sovereignty, and thus gave new
direction and vision to the future of the country. A certain
political class, which failed to bring about its contradiction
through the ballot, resorted to a campaign of disinformation and
promised to put this country to fire and sword, on the grounds of a
so-called fight for democracy, even though they failed to observe
one of democracy's fundamental principles, which is the submission
to the will of the people.
As far as we are concerned, our line of conduct is the one dictated
by the people of Niger, and it is because we remained confident
about it that, despite all the challenges, all the subversive

NIAMEY 00000072 002 OF 003


speeches and slander conveyed by the national and international
media, we satisfied this people's demand. The process of radical
reform indeed took place both in accordance with legal provisions
and in the acceptance of differences of opinions which each and
everyone could nurture; and the final decision was dependent on the
sole sovereign will of Niger's people.
This, Mr Dean, ladies and gentlemen members of the diplomatic corps,
is the atmosphere which surrounded the process, conducted in a
democratic and republican context which, however, some people would
like to deny the entire nation. But we have faith that this
internal debate, transformed into a profound crisis for unavowed
motives, will end with the ongoing inter Nigerien dialogue,
facilitated by the ECOWAS mediator Abdul Salami Abubakar.
I remain convinced that those whose only strategy was to discredit
this country, which is equally theirs, in the campaign against this
radical reform process, will have a change of heart for the
preservation of the national interest, because it is first and
foremost the duty of Niger's people to build their country and make
it an active and respected member on the international scene.
Mr Dean,
Diplomatic practice the world over is conducted in such a way that
the diplomatic community takes part in the activities of the host
country and supports the people both in times of happiness and
sorrow. You underscored very opportunely, the need for this
community to fully take part in the life of the country, in the
framework of the duty of its representation and in respect of the
obligation of reserve to which the members are also bound. As far
as we are concerned, no ambiguity should continue to surround the
issue. That is why those who believe they are entitled to depart
from these principles and continue to flout the rules of protocol
relating to the institutions which the people freely acquired, will
soon pay the consequences. Niger is ready to work, as usual, in the
context of the friendship between peoples, with all the peace and
justice loving countries; however, outside of any interference in
its internal affairs, and in the respect of the sovereignty and
dignity of its people.
You also said it, Mr Dean, the diplomatic community has a role to
play in the process of this country's development, for the
improvement of the livelihood of Niger people. The very essence of
this brotherly presence is to strengthen friendship ties and
establish fruitful partnerships that will lead to the deployment, in
the best conditions, of assistance which the countries and
institutions you represent, have provided to Niger, in all the areas
of common interest. Niger and its people will always be grateful to
you and I know with all of you, we still have a lot of initiatives
to materialize together, in this permanent quest for the well-being
of our people, and in order to ensure peace and tranquility
everywhere in our respective countries.
Mr Dean,
Ladies and gentlemen heads of diplomatic and consular services,
If there is another event during the last year which Niger can
recall with pride, it is definitely the return of peace to the
northern part of the country, which was as you know it, subjected to
insecurity for a few years, caused so many rifts, and slowed down
economic activity in the region of Agadez. Today, thanks to the
assistance of our brother, the Guide of the Libyan Revolution, and
with the perfect understanding of the real stakes for Niger at this
moment by the soldiers of the armed forces, all the armed rebellions
have pledged, in conjunction with the Government, to accept the
dynamics of peace, by agreeing to lay down their weapons.
I congratulate them, and I also congratulate all the people of Niger
at the same time, because the return of the members of the rebellion
to their respective families has demonstrated how our countrymen are
able to challenge themselves in order to put their country above any
other ambition. From now on, the region of Agadez, which is already
experiencing strong mining activity with a real impact on the
livelihood of the people, is gaining renewed impetus with the upturn
of tourist activities, because of this newly found peace. All the
necessary measures have been taken to strengthen this process, so
that the children of Niger can look in the same direction and work
resolutely toward nation building.
However, we know the challenge is great. Lasting peace in the Sahel
and Sahara region requires collective efforts, sustained cooperation
in a regional context, and the coordinated and efficient fight
against all sorts of trafficking which we have been insistently
drawing attention to for some years now. We have always said that
drugs and arms trafficking is at the very heart of the insecurity,
which kept growing in various forms, in the sub-region. The recent
unfortunate events in the north of Tillaberi, those of Telemses a
few days later and the kidnapping of other foreigners carried out
again some months ago, ended up showing the transnational nature of
this phenomenon.
That is why the fight for the security and stability of this
sub-region warrants constant vigilance and combined efforts. This

NIAMEY 00000072 003 OF 003


challenge, Mr Dean, is facing us, concomitantly with other concerns
such as the ones related to the consequences of climate change,
namely bad weather which our people are subjected to, the issue of
food security, which is thwarted by soil erosion and erratic the
seasons, all of which are happening in a context of rising prices of
basic commodities.
All these questions and the global answers they need, give their
true meaning to international solidarity and cooperation but also to
the willingness to live together, in a world of peace and shared
prosperity.
Niger's 6th Republic is ready to commit itself to meeting these
common challenges, in the framework of sustained cooperation with
all its partners, by making its contribution to the building of
peace and progress for all.
Thank you for your kind attention.
(End text)

Comment
-------
3. (SBU) More than half of President Tandja's remarks involved a
well-worn rationale behind his political maneuverings of the past
year, repeating the oft-told explanation that the circumstances were
due to the "peoples' will." His scolding those who were absent for
not observing protocol and warning against interference in Niger's
internal affairs came as a surprise, and quite a contrast to his
remarks of the year before, which the U.S. Charge attended, and at
which President Tandja mentioned political change in the United
States favorably (ref A). His frustration likely reflected his
dismay that that several ambassadors declined a GON invitation to
attend the installation of the newly-elected National Assembly on
November 14, including the United States, France, Nigeria, Germany,
and the European Commission (ref B). The notable absence of the
U.S. Ambassador and Canadian Head of Aid Mission at the New Year's
address no doubt caught his attention.

4. (SBU) President Tandja's reaction, along with his criticism of
ECOWAS on December 20 (ref C), attests to his growing irritation
with outsiders who refuse to accept as legitimate his political
machinations and dare to levy sanction against his Tazartche state.
It is entirely possible that the near future will see a diplomat or
NGO being expelled from Niger. On January 11, responding to New
Year's wishes from the heads of government agencies, President
Tandja asked Nigeriens to brace for "sacrifices" that might result
from international sanctions. He said, "The fight has just begun,
and imposes upon us more sacrifice, courage, and determination to
face the numerous challenges before us."

5. (SBU) Although President Tandja referred to trafficking in arms
and drugs, he did not mention international terrorists specifically,
as he did last year (ref A). Also, he noted with pride Niger's
success in bringing to an end nearly three years of conflict with
rebel Tuareg groups in the nation's north, going to the point of
thanking the "Guide of the Libyan Revolution" for assisting in this
process. Finally, he mentioned in passing, only at the end of his
remarks, climate change and other conditions that had led to rising
commodity prices and the issue of food security. End comment.

WHITAKER

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