Reintegration: Agreement Between the Republic Niger Government and the ORA
1995 PEACE AGREEMENT
Section III. Restoration of Peace and National Reconciliation
The Special Peace Committee will supervise the execution of the operations of disarmament and the recuperation of all arms, munitions and material of war when the Government:
- will have initiated the law on the decentralisation with a detailed timetable of application.
- will have adopted the status of the units with a special military status with a timetable of creating and organising these units and will have initiated these units.
- will have initiated, with the support of the partners of Niger, the execution of the urgency programme and the strategies of economic, social and cultural development planned for in the present Agreement in order to make possible the creation of jobs in the zone affected by the crisis.
- will have started the integration, the reintegration, the recruiting of demobilised elements of the ORA into the Public Administration, the Defence and Security Forces, State enterprises, Secondary Schools and the University and into development projects.
The Government will undertake the reintegration into Civil Service and Public Enterprises of demobilized elements from the ORA who had the status of civil servants or public agents.
The Government will also undertake the reintegration into schools and universities of demobilized elements from the ORA who had the status of pupils or students.
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 23 May 1995. One of the urgent tasks of the SPC, as informed in the meeting was to come up with the 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
- 1. "Niger-Tuareg Special Peace Committee begins meeting," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, May 25, 1995.
Further information on progress made on issues related to reintegration not available.
The monitoring committee for the implementation of the peace accord in Niger met from 3rd - 5th September, 1997 to discuss issues related to the reintegration of former armed rebels into Niger's national army and gendarmerie, into socioeconomic life, disarmament, decentralization. On reintegration into socioeconomic life, parties agreed that “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.”2 To reintegrate the rebels into the society, the government was appealing for development projects.3
The monitoring committee for the implementation of the peace accord met for the fourth time in Niger on 22nd 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 have 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 28th October last year at Tchin-Tabaradene.4 It can be assumed that the number of former combatants to be reintegrated into the society as agreed in 1997 were reintegrated.
- 4. "Niger: Peace Accord Committee Meeting Opens In Niamey," BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, April 24, 1998.
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.5 However, in the same news report it was suggested that the Ag Rhissa Boula, then current minister of tourism and historical leader of the Tuareg rebellion, said that the reintegration of former combatants was a very important step forward. However, he recognized that there might be some portions of the peace agreement whose implementation was being delayed, for example, the reintegration process. This suggests that the reintegration process was still under way in 1999.
- 5. "Tuareg rebels criticize government's "poor political disposition"," BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, March 24, 1999.
At least 50 leaders from the Tuareg rebellion fronts were attending reintegration seminars, which were part of the social reinsertion of the former combatants, as envisaged under the April 1995 peace agreement and the 1997 agreement.6
According to a news report, the reintegration process was still an ongoing process. In a ceremony organized to witness the disarmament and integration of the last wave of armed resistance group members near Agadez on June 5, 2000, Sia Katou, chief of staff of UFRA-SPLS informed that there were 3,500 former combatants, and out of this number 2,240 of them were waiting for France to honour a promise within the shortest possible time so that they can be reintegrated. The ceremony was attended by the representatives of the French government, Niger government, and rebel movements.7
Reintegration of former combatants continued. In March 2001, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) began a two-year training program to promote peace in the southeastern Diffa region and the socio-economic reintegration of former anti-government rebels in the area. It was reported that the international volunteers would train and support 660 former guerrillas in agricultural micro-projects so they could be self-reliant. The participants were drawn from the 3,750 former fighters registered by Niger's Commission on Peace Restoration. The US $695,661 program came from the UNV's Special Voluntary Fund.8
In a separate report, it was reported that the France provided US $130,000 to Niger as part of its ongoing support for the reintegration into civilian life of former fighters who participated in an armed rebellion in the southeastern region of Diffa between 1994 and 1998. The program, which started in 1998, now includes some 660 demobilized fighters.9
No further information is available except for the continuation of the UN and the French support to reintegrate the ex-combatants into society.
The reintegration program had been continuously delayed because of lack of funding. It was reported that the rebels criticized the government for not applying the peace agreement it had signed, especially concerning reintegration of the rebels into mainstream society.10 As of 2003, the UNDP and the French supported the reintegration program. However, the exact number of combatants reintegrated into the socio-economic life is not available.
- 10. "Niger: Government closes Nomade FM for inciting rebellion," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, February 18, 2003.
In a news article, it was reported that the UN had imposed tighter restrictions on staff movements in northern Niger given the growing insecurity in the region. It was 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, especially the reintegration of the former rebels into the socio-economic life.11 It was not clear on how many former rebel combatants were reintegrated back to socio-economic life. Of the 7,014 ex-combatants registered, 3,160 remained to be demobilized and reintegrated due to a lack of funding.12
2005: After a decade of peace agreement, the Niger government finally came up with an economic assistance plan to reintegrate the Tuareg rebel combatants into socio-economic life. Under the project, 3,160 former combatants will be granted around US $300 each in the form of micro-loans for projects in animal husbandry, the craft industry and vegetable gardening. Before this plan was announced, around 800 former combatants were integrated into the public services, but the socio-economic reintegration of the largest chunk of the ex-rebels had yet to be achieved.13 As such, a total of 3,960 former combatants were reintegrated back to socio-economic life.
- 11. "Niger; UN Responds to Growing Insecurity in the North," Africa News, June 10, 2004.
- 12. Florquin, N. and E.G. Berman, eds., "Armed and Aimless: Armed Groups, Guns, and Human Security in the ECOWAS Region," Geneva: Small Arms Survey (2005): 321.
- 13. "Niger; Tuareg Ex-Combatants to Get Promised Assistance a Decade After Peace Accord," Africa News, October 14, 2005;“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.