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Cablegate: Dec. 14 Opposition Protests Met by Tear Gas; Up to 100

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DE RUEHKH #1404/01 3490818
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 150818Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4889
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001404

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS PHUM SU

SUBJECT: Dec. 14 Opposition Protests Met by Tear Gas; Up to 100
Demonstrators Arrested

REF: A) KHARTOUM 1400 B) KHARTOUM 1378 C) KHARTOUM 1376 D) KHARTOUM
1359

1. (SBU) Summary: Government of Sudan (GOS) authorities shut down a
demonstration led by northern opposition parties in Omdurman on
Monday, December 14, blocking roads and bridges in the early
morning. Following a rally at the Omdurman headquarters of Sudan
Liberation Movement/Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM), approximately 300
demonstrators attempted to march a short distance to the National
Assembly at 12:30 p.m., but GOS police arrested up over 100
demonstrators and dispersed the crowd. By 2:00 p.m. the rally had
regrouped at the SLM/MM compound, which GOS police had surrounded,
firing tear gas canisters inside, and arresting those who attempted
to leave. End summary.

2. (SBU) Anticipating a protest similar to the truncated
demonstration led by members of the Sudan People's Liberation
Movement (SPLM) on December 7 (ref B), GOS police and additional
security services blocked roads and bridges leading to the riverside
Government of National Unity (GNU) National Assembly building in
Omdurman in the early morning of December 14. A small number of
protesters gathered but was quickly dispersed, continuing the event
at the Omdurman headquarters of SLM/MM. Numerous luminaries from
northern opposition parties, including the Umma Party, the Popular
Congress Party (PCP), and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP),
joined SLM/MM officials to rally for unity as the "Juba Alliance" of
opposition parties. Although some lower-level representatives from
SPLM-Northern Sector were in attendance, SPLM sources reported that
General Secretary Pagan Amun's and SPLM Head of Northern Sector
Yasir Arman's attempt to travel to the demonstration from Khartoum
was blocked by GOS Police at the bridge crossing to Omdurman.

3. (SBU) At 12:30 p.m., following a series of speeches by opposition
leaders at SLM/MM headquarters, a group of approximately 300
protesters commenced a march toward the National Assembly.
According to the UN and march participants, six separate uniformed
GOS police and security forces met the marchers as they proceeded to
the National Assembly, and arrested some high-profile protesters
while using excessive force and tear gas to disperse the crowd. The
UN estimated that up to 100 participants were arrested following
today's demonstration, including opposition luminaries such as
Miriam Al-Sadiq (Umma Party), Adballa Al-Nean (PCP), Hidir Abdi
(SPLM-Northern Sector), Mohammed Nugud (Communist), and Ali Hussein
Dousa (SLM/MM). Mubarak Al Fadil (DUP) told CDA he had been
teargassed and narrowly avoided arrest. SLM/MM estimated that seven
high-ranking members of their party had been arrested. One
opposition source reported that 122 demonstrators had been arrested,
divided between two police jails in Omdurman. The source reported
that less than 20 had been released from police custody by 5:00
p.m., while the UN did not report any arrested demonstrators had
been released.

4. (SBU) By 2:00 p.m., demonstrators had regrouped at SLM/MM
headquarters to revise their strategy in the wake of the arrests.
According to witnesses, Sudanese police and security forces
surrounded the compound, and fired what witnesses reported to be a
potent form of tear gas into the compound from outside at
approximately 2:20 p.m. Several opposition party members attempted
to leave the compound and were immediately arrested. Witnesses
reported that one SPLM vehicle attempted to leave the compound and
was chased by National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS)
vehicles, until a NISS vehicle collided with the SPLM vehicle,
causing a serious accident with an unknown number of injuries. By
5:00 p.m., demonstrators inside SLM/MM headquarters noted that the
situation was less tense than it had been earlier in the day, but
GOS police and security forces still surrounded the building.

5. (SBU) Post alerted American citizens in Sudan to the potential
for violence with the following Warden Message on December 14: "This
Warden Message alerts American citizens in Sudan to the potential
for violence, and road and bridge closures, due to anti-government
demonstrations on December 14, 2009. The potential for violence
between security forces and demonstrators is high. American
citizens should take care to avoid areas near government buildings
or ministries in Khartoum, where such demonstrations are usually
held. The bridges linking Khartoum and Omdurman have been closed to
traffic, and American citizens should be prepared to alter their
usual transportation routes in the event of further road or bridge
closures, which may happen with no advance notice. American
citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and
be aware of their surroundings at all times."

6. (SBU) Comment: Although it appears that the SPLM has patched up
its differences with the NCP for the time being (ref A), the Juba

KHARTOUM 00001404 002 OF 002


Alliance of northern opposition parties is chomping at the bit for
the opportunity to provoke the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
Ostensibly, today's demonstration was to protest the
as-yet-untabled National Security Act, which ironically is the same
law which grants GOS security services the authority to arbitrarily
arrest and hold peaceful demonstrators. With the SPLM now reverting
back to its traditional role as a semi-reliable GNU partner, future
demonstrations will depend on the ability of the somnolent northern
opposition parties to tap into public resentment over NCP policies.
However, given Khartoum's disaffected and apathetic populace,
rousing the public to the streets will be a tall order, even without
the risk of truncheons and tear gas. End comment.

WHITEHEAD

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