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One month after the army ousted Sudan’s civilian prime minister, he was reinstated in his post.



AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

One month after the coup that toppled civilian leaders in Sudan, protesters demanded the return of civilian rule. Now, the military seems to be turning things around. They have reinstated the civilian prime minister, but protesters are getting ready for another major demonstration.

NPR’s Eyder Peralta is in the Sudanese capital. Welcome, Eider.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

CORNISH: First of all, can you quickly get us out just in the last few weeks that brought Sudan to this point?

PERALTA: Yes. I mean, look, the last few years have been a sled for Sudan. I mean, in 2019, popular protests sparked a coup that toppled longtime leader Omar al-Bashir. A transitional government was formed and last month, the military staged another coup. They arrested many civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok. But Sudanese took to the streets with tens of thousands to protest. Dozens were killed.

And now, the military seems to be trying to pull back from the snatch of power. This week, Hamdok signed an agreement with the military. He was released from custody and reappointed prime minister. And he said he accepted the deal because he simply did not want protesters to be killed in the streets.

CORNISH: Where are you in the capital and what have you seen and heard from the people there?

PERALTA: I’m close to the city center. And in many ways, life is pretty normal here. The shops are open. Traffic is moving. But some roads are still blocked by protesters. And we saw young people walking around handing out posters with pictures of some of the demonstrators who had been killed by the army.

Today I spent some time talking to a group of friends who had gathered in a cafe. They were all women in their 20s, and they were all desperate for what was happening. Let’s listen to two of them – Zaydnab Abdel (ph) and Naurest Saley (ph).

ZAYDNAB ABDEL: I do not know how to express my (incomprehensible) feelings. I just hate it. I hate Sudan. I do not want to live here.

NAUREST SALEY: After these situations, I do not know (incomprehensible). Maybe 10 years, then …

PERALTA: 10 years?

SALEY: Yes, 10 years. Then we can be a place or – we have no electricity. We have no water. We have none.

PERALTA: So Sudan’s problems go deep. They are economical. They are social. And when Bashir was ousted in 2019, there was so much hope that the country would change, that it would be liberalized, that it would become more democratic. And now, to them, that seems distant or even impossible.

But there is a big protest, as you mentioned, tomorrow, and the organizers are calling for a million people to take to the streets. I asked these two young girls if they would go and without hesitation they told me, absolutely.

CORNISH: What are some of the other demands – the political demands that the demonstrators will make?

PERALTA: In fact they are very simple. They want the military to leave the running business of the country. And the reason they are protesting is because this agreement that was signed between the military and Prime Minister Hamdok is essentially a power-sharing agreement. Under the terms, Hamdok is prime minister, but General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan will continue to lead this transitional government.

And tomorrow looks like a major day. And if too many Sudanese show up, it will be a denial of the deal and the civilian leader who accepted it.

CORNISH: What are the prospects, however, for such an agreement and how could it shape Sudan’s future?

PERALTA: Yes. I mean, that’s the big question. And I think it’s a battle between pragmatism and idealism. Prime Minister Hamdok seems to have taken the pragmatic path. He is arguing that the army is the one with the gun and there is no way to get rid of them without bloodshed. And the roads are dreaming big.

But look, in the past, Hamdok has been able to lead mostly young people who take to the streets to accept pragmatic deals that lead Sudan to democracy. It is unclear whether he will be able to do so again this time.

CORNISH: This is NPR’s Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta reporting from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

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