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Cablegate: Update On Situation in Khartoum and Darfur and Embassy

VZCZCXRO2895
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0725/01 1341149
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131149Z MAY 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0797
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000725

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/EX MEG KEETON AND
STEVE TOY
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO AU UNSC SU AMGT ASEC CASC
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON SITUATION IN KHARTOUM AND DARFUR AND EMBASSY
SECURITY POSTURE


KHARTOUM 00000725 001.3 OF 002


A) KHARTOUM 724
B) KHARTOUM 718
C) KHARTOUM 716
D) KHARTOUM 710

1. (SBU) Following the bold JEM raid on Omdurman May 10, the
situation in Khartoum appears to have normalized as of May 13.
There were numerous military police check points in downtown
Khartoum May 11 and 12 in neighborhoods with sensitive government
buildings and major roads and arteries. The Government lifted the
curfew for Khartoum on May 11. However, the curfew in Omdurman
remained in place May 12. On May 13, a curfew was still in place in
the Omdurman neighborhood of Umm Bedda, a predominantly Zaghawa
residential area where much of the May 10 fighting occurred.

2. (SBU) There are numerous verified reports of arbitrary arrests
and beatings of ethnic Zaghawa in Khartoum and Darfur. Many of the
arrests in Khartoum have targeted Darfurian youth and single
laborers living in group houses in Omdurman; the absence of family
witnesses to verify detentions thus make exact figures difficult to
determine. Omdurman remains tightly controlled with numerous
checkpoints at which civilians presenting identity cards indicating
Darfurian heritage are arrested. The UN Human Rights Office
indicated on May 13 that the number detained does not exceed 400.
Neither the UN nor any other local Sudanese or international
contacts have received any reports of extrajudicial killings,
however the UN asserts that it cannot make a final assessment until
it is able to investigate the circumstances of civilian deaths
during and after the rebel assault. (Note: Multiple sources have
reported that the GOS forces that provided the primary defense of
Omdurman and Khartoum were not SAF military but rather NISS Special
Forces and the Central Reserve Police. End note.) Based on Sudan's
human rights record and past response to security threats, the UN
suggested it has "every reason to suspect people will be tortured
and beaten in the course of their interrogations." Local sources in
Khartoum report that the majority of detainees have been released
after 24 hours, often following violent interrogations. Human
Rights Watch issued a report May 13 indicating 57 civilian
casualties resulted from the attack. At a meeting of the diplomatic
corps with the MFA May 13 (septel) CDA Fernandez publicly warned MFA
U/S Mutriff Siddiq that Sudan would lose any support it currently
has as a result of the JEM raid if the GOS responds aggressively
with human rights violations or attacks that result in civilian
casualties.

3. (SBU) UN Human Rights has not been able to enter Omdurman since
the rebel attack because of its own security restrictions and
political friction with the Government. Prior to the JEM incursion,
the UN Human Rights office was negotiating with the Government to
secure regular and free access to detention facilities. The UN and
the Sudanese Government had agreed that the UN will provide advance
notification of which personnel would participate in visiting
detainees but would not be obligated to announce a date or time for
the visits in advance. This agreement received the backing of the
official Advisory Council for Human Rights, chaired by Vice
President Ali Osman Taha's brother. The UN asked for U.S.
intervention with the Government to secure UN human rights officers'
free access to Omdurman and access to detention facilities in
greater Khartoum based on the negotiated procedures.

4. (SBU) GOS security services detained Popular Congress Party
leader Hassan al Turabi May 12 for questioning but released him
later that evening. (Note: The GOS assumes that Turabi is
coordinating with JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim, as both are former
hardline leaders of the National Islamic Front movement who are now
opposed to the NCP-controlled regime. End note.) His son, Siddiq al
Turabi, told Polchief May 13 that prior to his questioning, Turabi
remained "in solitary confinement" but that he had not been
mistreated in any other way. Turabi said that 16 other members of
the PCP party had been detained May 11 and 12, and that as of May
13, ten of them remained in custody. He said that as of May 13 the
GOS continues to hold ten PCP members without charges in Kobar
prison and periodically moves them to National Intelligence and
Security Service (NISS) controlled locations for questioning.
Turabi reported May 12 that the GOS took over the PCP headquarters
office in Khartoum, but several hours later reported that GOS
officials called PCP leaders to request the party to resume control
of the premises.

5. (SBU) Khartoum international airport has been open since the day
of the JEM raid May 10, when it only closed for 12 hours.
International flights are again arriving and departing and seats are
available on most flights. As of May 12 the airport in Darfur is
open for selective flights only (i.e., some PAE and UN flights were

KHARTOUM 00000725 002.3 OF 002


in operation). UNAMID's Force Commander Martin Luther Agwai told
fieldoff May 13 that he and Joint Special Representative Rudolphe
Adada plan to protest the current airport operations and flight
constraints with the GOS as a violation of UNAMID's Status of Forces
Agreement (SOFA). Agwai told Fieldoff that the GOS informed him the
airports in Darfur are closed to prevent Libya and Chad from
evacuating JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim from Darfur. Agwai and other
contacts in Darfur believe the GOS plans to conduct bombing
operations on JEM locations. INGOs operating in Darfur canceled
site visits to IDP camps May 12 and 13 due to the airport closures.


6. (SBU) The Embassy remains on stand-fast with a 7 pm - 6 am curfew
with most employees working from home, but intends to return to
relatively normal operations May 14. The Emergency Action Committee
will reconvene May 14. Current staffing level at post is 95
official Americans (STATE: 34, RAO 5, DLO 4, CCE 2, USAID 11, JUBA
6, JUBA TDYERS 12, KHARTOUM TDYERS 19). There are 71 official
Americans in Khartoum, 18 in Juba, 2 in Nyala, and 4 in El Fasher.


7. (SBU) Post has adequate supply of MREs and water for approx. 72
hours on hand at the Chancery and RAO compounds. MREs and water
supply will be established for the same period at USAID. Post has
fuel storage to cover 96 hours at the Chancery, 72 hours at RAO, 24
hours at USAID, and 96 hours at GSO. Fuel storage tanks have been
topped off. Throughout the current crisis, city utilities have been
continuously available and gasoline and diesel fuel have been
available from local distributors. Post has no reason to believe
that fuel or electricity will become unavailable.

8. (SBU) Post is implementing a plan to procure 15 additional
Thuraya satellite phones for the Mission to expand our network.
Post is also verifying that a telephone line is in working order at
each residence. Currently information for staff is being
disseminated via post's radio network. Email also has been used and
the internet access was never interrupted in Khartoum throughout the
crisis. All staff has been requested to regularly monitor the radio
and to carry one with them when traveling about town. Weekly radio
checks are also being carefully monitored.

FERNANDEZ

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