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Cablegate: Large Rally Cheers Junta in Niamey; Cfdr Issues Statement

VZCZCXRO8764
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0176/01 0511911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201834Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0019
INFO ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0002
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 000176

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR AF/W AND AF/RSA
USAID FOR AFR/W
ACCRA ALSO FOR USAID/WA
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI NG
SUBJECT: Large Rally Cheers Junta in Niamey; CFDR Issues Statement

1.On the morning of February 20, large crowds gathered in Niamey in
response to the opposition collation (Coordination of Forces for
Democracy and the Republic - CFDR) call for a public rally in
support of the junta, the Supreme Council for the Restoration of
Democracy (CSRD), that forcibly seized power on the afternoon of
February 18. An estimated 20,000 people participated in the event
(see photos attached), which clogged downtown streets for hours.
The participants were jubilant, and brought home-made signs showing
both support for the armed forces and noting that those who
supported to prolongation in power of President Tandja
("tazarchists" - meaning those who support a continuation of power
in Hausa).

2.The CFDR released on February 19 the following statement
regarding the sudden change of events (informal Embassy
translation):

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(Begin text)

Since Thursday, February 18, 2010, Niger has lived under a regime
of exception following the interruption by the Supreme Council for
the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD) of the adventure of the 6th
Republic.

This major event occurs at a moment when Niger has been
experiencing an acute political crisis since the
anti-constitutional referendum of August 4, 2009 that emerged from
the denial of the democratic process and Mamadou Tandja's
intentions to impose a unilateral constitutional change.

The demolition of the government institutions and the partial
suspension of the constitution are based on the logic of
establishing a despotic order that is contrary to the rule of law.


The Nigerien people, attached to democratic values that they had
patiently acquired during the last 20 years, strongly opposed this
authoritarian confiscation of their sovereignty.

The crisis, having been put underway, resulted in ECOWAS appointing
a mediator in order to open an inclusive political dialogue.

However, the government delegation used all sorts of delaying
maneuvers to make the dialogue fail.

The PM's last media appearance, on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 has
finally convinced Nigeriens that the government will never engage
on the path of a peaceful resolution of the political crisis that
shakes our country.

For all these reasons, the CFDR welcomes with relief the end of the
6th Republic, a Republic which is illegal and illegitimate.

The CFDR welcomes the end of the 6th Republic with all the more
relief that the defunct regime wanted to force democratic forces to
fight it on the only field that it has chosen, that is,
confrontation and violence.

NIAMEY 00000176 002 OF 002


This violence, we are convinced, would have led our country into a
situation, which, over time, would carry danger and serious threats
for its stability and that of the sub-region.

The CFDR takes good note of the declaration of the Supreme Council
for the Restoration of Democracy, in particular, the will it
expressed to make Niger return to democracy and good governance.

The CFDR encourages the CSRD in its decision to bring back Niger to
a normal constitutional life after a democratic transition, which
would be essentially devoted to the development and the adoption of
a consensual constitution on the one hand, and the organization of
free and transparent general elections on the other hand.

The CFDR invites is supporters and all sincere patriots to a march
in support for the restoration of democracy on Saturday, February
20, 2010 all around the country.

Long live the CFDR, long live democracy, long live Niger!


(End text)

3.Comment: The CFDR, which has engaged in fruitless negotiations
with the Government of Niger side, seems highly motivated to
develop a modus operandi with the CSRD to pursue a reinvigorated
democracy following the political downturn of the past year,
wherein President Tandja refused to relinquish power on December
22, 2009, the end of his second and final term in office under the
1999 constitution. End comment.
WHITAKER

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