Military Reform: Agreement Between the Republic Niger Government and the ORA
1995 PEACE AGREEMENT
Section IV. The Organisation of Defense and Security Forces
A. Units with a special military status will be created in the regions of Aïr, Azawak and Kawar.
The special status of these units (command, personnel management, recruitment, training, advancement) will be determined by texts of regulations on the proposition of an interdepartmental committee where representatives of the ORA also will be members.
These units will have as their mission to guarantee the maintenance of order and of public security. Within the framework of their mission they will have to act in coordination with and complementing the classical forces of defence and security.
The personnel of these units will be composed of demobilized elements from the ORA and of people coming from the affected regions.
B. Armed Nigerien Forces and the National Police Force
Within the framework of the restoration of peace and trust, the Government engages to integrate within the army demobilized elements from the ORA who will receive appropriate training. These elements will sign an engagement in accordance with statuary stipulations.
Moreover, within the framework of the annual recruitment, the contingent of recruits, coming
from the zone affected by the conflict will be reviewed in a rising way.
Therefore the statuary texts pertaining to that matter will be readjusted.
Furthermore, on the proposition of the Interdepartmental Committee, the law 62-10 of March
16 1962, already seen above at paragraph A/ of the present clause, will be submitted to revision by the National Assembly.
As agreed in the peace agreement, the Special Peace Committee (SPC) was formed with representatives from the government and ORA. The first meeting of SPC took place on 23rd May 1995. One of the urgent tasks of the SPC, as discussed in the meeting, was to come up with a name list of ORA demobilized elements. This list was particularly important for the implementation of the provisions of the accord relating to integration, reintegration, and recruitment into the army, paramilitary forces, state-owned corporations, high schools, university, public administration and development projects. Another urgent task was said to draw up the list of arms, ammunition and war materiel - to be returned to the authorities - so that their recovery and storage could be effectively controlled.1 However, problems arose in 1995 with regards to military reform. Rhissa Ag Boula, the chairman of the Organisation of the Armed Resistance, said the government was breaking the peace accord by putting special military units of former Tuareg gunmen and northern civilians under the control of the interior ministry rather than the defense ministry.2
A serious blow was dealt to military reform as the elected government was ousted in a military coup on 27 January 1996. Nevertheless, Mohamed Ekiji, the leader of the Coordinating Body of the Armed Resistance (CRA), which was one of the parties to sign the 1995 peace agreement, said that the coup could represent “an opportunity”. According to the news report, the rebel leader believed that the military was in the best position to achieve a lasting peace and the government had been a mere interlocutor between the rebel and the army.3
Mixed security patrols were introduced in 1996. Furthermore, in December a protocol was concluded covering the integration of ex-combatants into the regular armed forces.4
The monitoring committee for the implementation of the peace accord in Niger met from 3 to 5 September 1997 to discuss issues related to the reintegration of former armed rebels into the Niger's national army and gendarmerie, into socioeconomic life, disarmament and decentralization.
Agreement was reached on the following (ORIGINAL TEXT):5
First, integration into the Niger armed forces and the problem of ranks. Here are the modalities for entry into the national army: One must be a Niger citizen, be between the ages of 18 and 35, be declared medically fit and be a bachelor without children. Marriage can be contracted only after five statutory years. All married soldiers will be joined by their families only after their training, after which the appropriate administrative formalities will be carried out.
Here are the conditions for admission into the national gendarmerie: One must be a Niger citizen, aged between 20 and 30, and have at least a primary school certificate. One must be declared medically fit, be 1.65m tall and have a clean record. One must be a bachelor without children, and shall not marry within a stipulated period of three years. All married soldiers will be joined by their families only after their training. After the training, candidates will go through the necessary administrative formalities.
First, the form of integration and ranks: In accordance with Item B of Article 17 of the agreement establishing definitive peace between the government of the Republic of Niger and the Organization of the Armed Resistance dated 24th April 1995, appropriate training will be given to all the 250 CAD and TVT fighters of the armed resistance that are to be enlisted into the national army and the national gendarmerie. After the training, a selection will be made and 12 officers, 24 NCOs and 36 other ranks will forthwith be given further training from the selected group. Exceptionally, those selected for officers training, both in the army and the gendarmerie, will not have to pass the entry examination for the military schools or academies. The officers, NCOs and other ranks will be equally shared.
Second, the integration into other state security services – customs, police, republican guard, (environmental protection) – and quota sharing: It has been agreed that the integration of fighters must be terminated before the end of the (seventh) month in line with the 1997 budget. The quotas are as follows: republican guard, 50; customs, 45; national education, 50; and health, 30. Integration of soldiers into other state institutions will be effected at a pro rata basis of 30 per cent for the conventional group and 70 per cent for the army. The integration of the remaining number of soldiers, a total of 255, will be covered by the 1998-99 budget.
Third, Saharan security units: Out of a total of 1,100 demobilized fighters, a first batch of 305 former fighters and 50 youths from the border regions shall be integrated under the 1997-98 budget. The remaining will be integrated during 1998 depending on the availability of funds to the government and with the assistance of financial backers.
Fourth, reintegration into socioeconomic life: In collaboration with some creditors, efforts are being made to determine the chances of employment, the socioeconomic potential of the affected areas and the real needs for the reintegration of demobilized fighters. Africare plans to train 504 former demobilized soldiers according to the following quotas per professional activity: drivers, 96; fitters, 72; [word indistinct], 60; masons, 60; auto mechanics, 48; electricians, 24; welders, 24; metal worker, 24; radio and television technicians, 24; plumbers, 24; artisans, 12; tailors, 38.
Issued in Niamey on 5th September 1997 and signed on the same day by the Front for the Liberation of Tamoust, the Front for the Liberation of Air and Azaouak, MRLN [Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Niger], FSN, CAD, PGT, FCLN, Revolutionary Army for the Liberation of Northern Niger and the People's Army for the Liberation of the North.
According to a news report, the ex-rebels encamped for several months in their base will be disarmed on 21 October, a month later than planned, and the encampment will end two days later. Then the most delicate phase - the integration of ex-rebel combatants within government structures - will commence. Nearly 200 combatants had already joined the army and were currently under training. In early November (1997), 600 others were expected to join the Saharan security unit, the Republican Guard, the customs service, the forestry department and the police.
The state had promised to integrate others in 1998, but before then there is a need to occupy the demobilized rebels and find work for those who will not become public servants. Several factions of the rebellion, tired of the slow pace of the peace implementation process, had taken up arms again. The insecurity which still reigned in the region, albeit residual, did not augur well for foreign investment. To reintegrate the rebels into the society, the government was appealing for development projects.6
Monitoring committee for the implementation of the peace accord met for the fourth time in Niger on 22 April 1998. The meeting, chaired by the prime minister, was attended by members of government and leaders of the former rebels. As discussed in the meeting, a lot of efforts had been made by both the government and the former rebels to strengthen peace and confidence among themselves and the demobilization (encampment) and integration exercise went on satisfactorily. Disarmament was officially celebrated on 28 October last year at Tchin-Tabaradene.7
- 7. "Niger: Peace accord committee meeting opens in Niamey," BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, April 24, 1998.
According to a news report “1,400 former combatants have been integrated into the army”, but the 14 fronts of the former Tuareg rebel movement - Arabs and Toubous - signed a declaration to denounce the government's poor political disposition and laxity.8
The military coup of 9 April 1999, however, suggested that the military was constantly posing a threat to civilian supremacy. The rebel had concerns regarding the military take over would affect the military reforms. Nevertheless, the integration of former combatants was still going on and moving in the right direction.
- 8. "Tuareg rebels criticize government's "poor political disposition"," BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, March 24, 1999.
In June 2000, Sia Katou, commander in chief of the Union of Armed Resistance Fronts (Union des Fronts de la Résistance Armée - UFRA), complained that 3,500 ex-combatants were still waiting to be integrated.9 However, a gradual progress was made. According to a news report, the integration of former combatants was still an ongoing process as of 2000. In a ceremony organized to witness the disarmament and integration of the last wave of armed resistance group members near Agadez on 5 June 2000, it was informed that the MUR expansion untraced. Nevertheless, the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of the Sahara; and the Revolutionary Armed Forces-UFRA were in encampment site. The first wave of integration, after the Algiers supplementary accord of 1997, started to integrate the MUR expansion untraced; the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of the Sahara; and the Revolutionary Armed Forces (UFRA) into the Saharan security units and the Niger Armed Forces. According to an official count, 79 UFRA ex-combatants would be incorporated into the different military and paramilitary corps. A similar operation would also be carried out simultaneously for 64 members of the Front for the Liberation of Air and Azaouak-SLT expansion untraced -Saharan Revolutionary Armed Front-Armed Resistance Organization Coalition. Recruitment into the defense and security forces had already started at the Agadez youth and cultural centre.10
No further information is available on military reform. The integration of former combatants is ongoing.
Although the integration of former combatants from several armed groups was ongoing, reform within the military organization was a serious issue. On 1 August 2002, “army mutineers in Diffa, 1500 km east of the Niger capital, Niamey, were on Thursday reported to have detained various defense, security and civilian officials, including the prefect of the region, a parliamentarian and the town's mayor”. Niger often had mutinies by soldiers demanding better living conditions and the dismissal of their officers. Such movements usually started in barracks in the north or east before spreading to the rest of the country. In some cases, the demands end up becoming political.11 On 4 August 2002, the loyal government army was sent to recapture the Diffa region from mutinous soldiers. Negotiations between the government and the mutinous soldiers failed. The Mutinous soldiers fled to the northern mountain to fight against the government.12
The Niger government integrates former Tuareg rebels into the police and military. As an example of the government reintegration plan, in 2003, many of the Republican Guard members were former Tuareg rebels.13 Exact numbers for integration, however, are not available.
A news article reported that the UN had imposed tighter restrictions on staff movements in northern Niger given the growing insecurity in Northern Niger. It also reported that the peace processes that began after the signing of the agreement in 1995 provided for the disarmament of the rebels and the integration of many of them into the army. However, some Tuaregs accused President Mamadou Tandja of failing to respect the terms of the deal.14 It was not clear how many former rebel combatants were integrated into the Niger armed force.
2005: Of the 7,014 ex-combatants registered to be demobilized and integrated and reintegrated, 2,074 ex-combatants were integrated in the Unités sahariennes de sécurité (Saharan Security Units).15
2006: A total of 2,074 rebel combatants were integrated into the security units, 3,960 former combatants were reintegrated back to socio-economic life, and integration/reintegration status of about 980 former rebel combatants is unknown.
- 14. "Niger; UN Responds to Growing Insecurity in the North," Africa News, June 10, 2004.
- 15. “Niger (PCPAA, 2006 – 2007),” School for a Culture of Peace, 2008, accessed August 1, 2010, http://escolapau.uab.cat/img/programas/desarme/mapa/niger08i.pdf.