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Cablegate: Au Summit: Nigeria Fm Says Constitution Sacred, Will Sign

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SUBJECT: AU SUMMIT: NIGERIA FM SAYS CONSTITUTION SACRED, WILL SIGN
ONTO COPENHAGEN

THIS MESSAGE IS FROM USAU AMBASSADOR MICHAEL A. BATTLE.

1. (U) January 31, 2010, 3:00 p.m.; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2. (U) Participants:

United States
Under Secretary Maria Otero
Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson
NSC Senior Director Michelle Gavin
Ambassador Michael Battle
AF Special Assistant Akunna Cook
AU Desk Officer Ryan Bowles (notetaker)

Nigeria
Foreign Minister Chief Ojo Maduekwe
Ambassador to the AU Nkoyo Toyi
Samson Itefboje (notetaker)

3. (SBU) Summary: Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe told the
U.S. delegation that Nigeria would soon sign onto the Copenhagen
climate change accord. With regard to possible presidential
succession, he said that Nigeria intended to follow its
constitution, and thanked the U.S. for the "timely" joint statement
issued with the UK, France, and the EU on January 28. He said he
looked forward to A/S Carson's imminent visit to Nigeria, and
invited U/S Otero and NSC Michelle Gavin to visit soon. End
summary.

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4. (U) The U.S. delegation met with Nigerian Foreign Minister Chief
Ojo Maduekwe on January 31 on the margins of the AU Summit in Addis
Ababa. U/S Otero raised the Copenhagen climate change accord. A/S
Carson raised Haiti, upcoming elections, the January 28 joint
U.S.-EU-UK-France statement, and his trip later this week to Lagos
and Abuja.

--------------------------
Joint Statement on Nigeria
--------------------------

5. (SBU) FM Maduekwe told the delegation that the joint statement
on President Yar'adua's health and the need to follow constitutional
principles, which was issued by the U.S., UK, France, and the EU on
January 28, was welcomed in Nigeria and issued at exactly the right
time. A/S Carson said he hoped Nigerians understood that we
intended to communicate an expression of interest from the four
parties, and an expression of Nigeria's importance both in West
Africa and as a large, successful democracy. He said that Secretary
Clinton and her counterparts felt strongly that Nigeria must remain
strong, democratic, and stable. FM Maduekwe said that everyone he
spoke with took the statement in exactly that spirit.

6. (SBU) FM Maduekwe said the statement was very helpful, and said
that he was sure President Yar'adua was looking at all options. He
thought that Nigeria would be stronger and more resilient as a
democracy after these events pass, and insisted that "everyone" was
calling for the constitution to be followed. He thought that news
reports overly dramatized the situation in Nigeria, and said the
country was stable.

--------------------------------
Copenhagen Climate Change Accord
--------------------------------

7. (SBU) U/S Otero told FM Maduekwe that while the U.S. had hoped
for a more robust agreement, we were pleased with the result and
thought that it was good for Africa in particular. She urged
Nigeria to associate itself with the Copenhagen climate change
accord as soon as possible. FM Maduekwe said that Nigeria would
soon sign onto the accord. He praised President Obama's leadership
in Copenhagen and said that his contributions were a "game changer."
He added that Nigeria is committed to ending natural gas flaring by
an unspecified date, and was now working backwards to figure out how
to accomplish this goal. He said that the Government of Nigeria
would contribute money to the gas flaring project, but also counted
on international oil companies to do their share. He asked for U.S.
technology and infrastructure assistance in support of Nigeria's
effort.

-----------------------------------
Support for Free and Fair Elections

ADDIS ABAB 00000189 002 OF 002


-----------------------------------

8. (SBU) FM Maduekwe said he hoped A/S Carson would meet
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Maurice
Iwu when he visited Nigeria later this week. He said Vice President
Goodluck Jonathan was "passionate" about the elections, and that
Jonathan was set against changing the date of elections when
President Yar'adua left for Saudi Arabia. FM Maduekwe said he was
encouraging INEC to be more open to international partners, by
telling them that if they are doing a great job, with nothing to
hide, that they should work with the U.S. and others.

9. (SBU) A/S Carson responded by saying that the U.S. wanted to see
a reformed INEC that had the technical skills to ensure a clean
election with results in which Nigerians could have faith. A/S
Carson offered U.S. technical assistance toward this goal.

---------------------------------------------
Haiti, Upcoming Visits, and Human Trafficking
---------------------------------------------

10. (U) A/S Carson praised Nigeria for its $5 million contribution
for Haiti relief, and said Secretary Clinton appreciated the
donation. U/S Otero told FM Maduekwe that we appreciated this, and
he should be proud of Nigeria's efforts to combat trafficking in
persons.

11. (U) FM Maduekwe responded by saying that Nigeria hoped to be a
long-term participant in Haiti's reconstruction, and wanted to send
Nigerian teams to help as soon as Haiti was able to receive more
international personnel. He said that trafficking issues were
difficult, but important, and that the AU was paying increasing
attention to trafficking issues of all kinds in West Africa - not
just human trafficking.

12. (U) In closing, FM Maduekwe said he looked forward to A/S
Carson's upcoming visit to Lagos and Abuja. He invited U/S Otero
and NSC Senior Director Michelle Gavin to visit as soon as they
could.

13. (U) U/S Otero, A/S Carson, and NSC Senior Director Gavin have
cleared this message.

YATES

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