- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2009

SUDAN

Woman faces trial for wearing pants

KHARTOUM | A female Sudanese journalist facing 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public in violation of the country’s strict Islamic laws told a packed Khartoum courtroom Wednesday she is resigning from a U.N. job that grants her immunity so she can challenge the law on women’s public dress code.

Lubna Hussein was among 13 women arrested July 3 in a raid by members of the public order police force on a popular Khartoum cafe for wearing trousers, considered indecent by the strict interpretation of Islamic law adopted by Sudan’s Islamic regime. All but three of the women were flogged at a police station two days later.

But Ms. Hussein and two other women decided they wanted to go to trial and Ms. Hussein invited human rights workers, Western diplomats and fellow journalists to Wednesday’s hearing. Some of her women friends showed up in court wearing trousers in a show of support.

Ms. Hussein works in the media department of the U.N. Mission in Sudan and contributes opinion pieces to a left-leaning Khartoum newspaper. The judge adjourned the hearing until Aug. 4 to give Ms. Hussein time to quit her job.

SOMALIA

Five sentenced to death in bombings

HARGEISA | A court in breakaway Somaliland sentenced five men to death in absentia Wednesday for masterminding suicide bomb attacks in 2008 that killed at least 24 people.

The synchronized blasts in October 2008 - at the Ethiopian Embassy, the local president’s office and a U.N. building - were blamed on Somalia’s militant insurgent movement al Shabab, which has links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

The blasts in the northern territory, which has been relatively stable since declaring itself independent in 1991, showed the militants could operate beyond their southern strongholds and were one of Somalia’s worst suicide attacks.

Officials at the Regional Court of Hargeisa, capital of the enclave, said the five convicted Somalis were on the run in other parts of the Horn of Africa nation.

Unlike anarchic southern Somalia - where hard-line Islamist rebels are battling a weak government and chaos has often reigned for the past 18 years - Somaliland prides itself on having a working judiciary and government structure.

GUINEA-BISSAU

Sanha wins presidential bid

BISSAU | Malam Bacai Sanha is the new president of Guinea-Bissau, election officials said Wednesday. It was a rare, peaceful transition of power in the tiny West African nation, which has been wracked by coups, countercoups and a civil war.

Mr. Sanha took 63.39 percent of Sunday’s presidential runoff vote, beating opponent Kumba Yala, who took 36.69 percent, the electoral commission announced. They were competing to succeed President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira, who was assassinated in March.

Mr. Sanha was interim president for a year after a 1998-99 civil war, while Mr. Yala was elected president in 2000, but overthrown in a popular bloodless coup three years later.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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