The Amazigh Voice, June 1996
Visit of a Twareg Leader to the US

By Barbara Worley

On February 6, 1996, Attaher Abdoulmomine, a Twareg from Niger and a leader in the Twareg plight for democracy in the region and for the rights of Twaregs, gave a talk at the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) as part of a series of talks he has given throughout the U.S. Mr. Abdoulmomine addressed the current situation and economic development in Niger, the Twareg problems, development needs in the north, and shared his thoughts on democracy in Niger. His visit to the U.S. was sponsored by the U.S. Information Service (USIS) and the African-American Institute. He visited several major U.S. cities accompanied by ten other African leaders under a program called "Young African Leaders." During his tour, he met with several people interested in Niger and the Twaregs, including members of the Amazigh-American community and ACAA.

Mr. Abdoulmomine was one of the principal negotiators in the Peace Pact of October 1994 and the Peace Accords of April 1995, representing the Organization de Resistance Armee (ORA), Armed Resistance Organization [of Twareg insurgents]. He is the son of a traditional Twareg chief, an 80-year-old man who was publically murdered by the Nigerien soldiers in retaliation for violent attacks by rebel forces having nothing to do with the old chief. In the conference panels on the Twareg Insurgency at Boston University last year, Mr. Abdoulmomine appeared in a video clip which showed him attempting to speak before the National Conference about Twareg problems and being booed and walked out on. He has continued to try to negotiate a solution for the Twaregs and has now been recognized by the U.S. government as an African leader. This is an important development for peace in Niger, and the first time the U.S. government has recognized a Twareg leader. During his tour in the U.S. he was appointed Secretary of State for the Interior by the new military government, but he has not decided yet whether to accept the post.