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Cablegate: Dr. Ghazi Salaheddin On Trouser Case, Darfur

VZCZCXRO8659
PP RUEHBC RUEHBZ RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDU RUEHKUK RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN
RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1020 2470918
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 040918Z SEP 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4365
INFO RUEHDL/AMEMBASSY DUBLIN PRIORITY 0009
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L KHARTOUM 001020

SIPDIS

NSC FOR MGAVIN
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2019
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PHUM PREL SOCI SU
SUBJECT: DR. GHAZI SALAHEDDIN ON TROUSER CASE, DARFUR
KIDNAPPINGS

REF: A. A) KHARTOUM 905
B. B) KHARTOUM 994

Classified By: CDA Robert E. Whitehead, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: On the margins of a September 3 meeting on
the upcoming visit of SE Gration, Presidential Advisor Dr.
Ghazi Salaheddin told CDA Whitehead that the September 7
trial of Ms. Lubna Hussein, the Sudanese journalist arrested
in Khartoum for wearing trousers on July 3, could result in a
fine but not flogging. He also expressed concern about the
rash of kidnappings in Sudan's Darfur region, noting that the
Government of Sudan (GOS) was seeking to counter the trend by
refusing to pay ransoms and refraining from risky rescue
operations. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Dr. Ghazi said that he was dismayed that the case of
Ms. Hussein, who was arrested in Khartoum on July 3 and
charged with "indecent dress" for wearing trousers in public
(Ref A), was continuing to attract unwanted attention. He
added that "thousands of women on the streets of Khartoum
wear trousers without managing to be arrested." Ghazi stated
that he had spoken with Minister of Justice Abdelbasit
Sabdarat, who assured him that if Ms. Hussein were found
guilty, she would not be flogged. However, if found guilty
would likely be required to pay a fine.

3. (C) Dr. Ghazi expressed concern about the proliferation of
kidnappings in Darfur, most recently the abduction of two UN
staff in Zalingei in West Darfur (Ref B) and the long-running
hostage saga involving staff of the Irish NGO GOAL near
Kutum. With regard to the latter case, the Wali (Governor) of
North Darfur has been in frequent contact with the
kidnappers, said Ghazi. The Wali was "at one point about to
make a deal" to buy the kidnappers off with payment of
ransom, a ploy that Ghazi vetoed for fear that it would
provoke a rash of copycat attempts. He had informed the
kidnappers through the Wali that the maximum the GOS could
promise the kidnappers (in exchange for release of the
hostages) was freedom from prosecution. Ghazi said that a
rescue operation with the use of force is also off the table
for now because of the inherent risks to the hostages, and he
characterized the current situation as "a battle of
attrition." He said that the GOS had identified the
perpetrators as "unruly elements" from an Arab tribe.

4. (C) COMMENT: The Hussein incident remains an
embarrassment that the GOS hopes will go away after the
trial. The implications posed by the kidnappings are
sobering, since they limit the ability and willingness of
NGOs to work outside of the larger towns to deliver
humanitarian aid, to assist with voluntary returns of
Darfurian IDPs, or to undertake the development and recovery
work that will be required to address many of the underlying
causes of the Darfur conflict.
WHITEHEAD

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