Nigerien government continues down the road of confrontation with Tuareg rebels
The Nigerien military is continuing to arbitrarily arrest civil servants from the department of Agadez in Niger, leaving no trace of them. At the same time landmines belonging to the military have been discovered that both the civilian population and Tuareg fighters acknowledge the existence of.
In recent weeks more and more sympathisers of the "Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice" (MNJ) have defected from the "Force armée nationale" (FAN) and the "Force nationale d'intervention et de sécurité" (FNIS) to take up arms with the MNJ. In May soldiers guarding a uranium mine owned by the French company AREVA, deserted and joined the MNJ, taking with them money and weapons.
In response to this the Nigerien government accused AREVA of funding the MNJ and therefore the Tuareg rebellion. This particular crisis peaked with the exiling of Dominique Pin, a representative of AREVA in Niger. At the end of June, Gilles Denamur, a security expert for AREVA was also exiled, due to accusations by the Nigerien government of aiding the rebellion of 1990 – 1995. AREVA has repeatedly denied the accusations.
On July 27th, French President, Nicolas Sarkozy intervened and pushed for a rapid solution. Following talks between both the French and Nigerien governments, and AREVA, Niger agreed to extend AREVA’s mining contracts. Until now AREVA has held the monopoly in uranium mining in Niger. The new contracts stand to greatly improve the Nigerien government’s financial gain from the uranium mines.
Because the Nigerien government still does not have control over rebel movements in the north, it has requested assistance from neighbouring countries to help contain the fighters. The president – Mamadou Tandja – still belittles the rebellion and the rebels, referring to them as "armed bandits" and "drug traffickers", making negotiations until now impossible. In mid-July, Burkina Faso offered to act as a mediator between the rebels and the government as in the previous rebellion, successful peace talks were accomplished with the help of Burkina Faso, among other countries.
On July 15th the MNJ set up a political office whose intention it is to reach the Tuareg – Diaspora living in the western world, to establish international representatives and relations and to co-ordinate charity campaigns.
The MNJ is still, and repeatedly, showing it's willingness to engage in negotiations. This willingness was reinforced by the release of six soldiers who were arrested during the attack of Tazerzayt.
From the 9th to the 10th of August the MNJ attacked an electricity station that provides power to a uranium mine belonging to AREVA, and a fuel deposit that is used by the FAN, in an attempt to have their demands heard. In successive fighting between the MNJ and the FAN, two civilians have been killed by the Nigerien military.
Link German http://de.indymedia.org/2007/07/188674.shtml
Link French http://lille.indymedia.org/spip.php?article9732
Link English http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/07/377118.html
Website of MNJ: http://m-n-j.blogspot.com
News Agency Reuters: http://www.reuters.com, http://africa.reuters.com/NE
newsgroup.nordniger reports on the latest movements in the north of Niger since spring 2007, especially on the MNJ’s activities and all the according news and background information.
In the newsgroup.nordniger, people from the German speaking area are engaged who took over the task of reporting on news on the situation in northern Niger, the so-called Tuareg rebellion, the activities of the MNJ and everything that is related to it, as there is else only little or no information available.
newsgroup.nordniger is in contact with other groups with the same goal