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After the coup, Sudan's civilian prime minister is said to be back in power


Almost a month after a military coup, the civilian prime minister of Sudan is back in power. This would seem to be a huge win for the thousands of protesters who demanded a return to civilian rule. But many protesters disapprove. What's going on here? NPR's Eyder Peralta is following this story from his base in South Africa. Eyder, hey there.


INSKEEP: How'd we get to this point?

PERALTA: So, look, it's been a roller coaster in Sudan since the military ousted Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's longtime leader, in 2019 and a transitional government was formed. And last month, there was another military coup. Military generals put a lot of civilians under arrest, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. But Sudanese took to the streets by the tens of thousands to protest the coup, and negotiations have been ongoing. Yesterday, Abdalla Hamdok was released from detention and reappointed the prime minister of Sudan. On state TV, he was shown shaking hands with the military rulers that just days ago were his biggest enemies. And I've spoken to some of his advisers who don't seem to know what exactly this means. A spokesperson of his will not pick up the phone. But what is clear is that he has apparently cut some kind of power-sharing deal with the military.

INSKEEP: And what, to the extent that you can learn, are the terms then?

PERALTA: That is also unclear. I mean, what we have heard on state TV is that the military has agreed to release all political prisoners, but that has not yet happened. They did not mention how power will be divided or when a Cabinet will be appointed. Prime Minister Hamdok said very little on TV, but he made it clear that this deal was made in part to, quote, "end the bloodshed." Over the past month, dozens of protesters have been killed by the military. And in his speech, Hamdok said that Sudan would be peaceful by, quote, "joining hands."

INSKEEP: I can understand then why protesters have questions. They're probably asking is this actually a hostage video that we saw? Is this really civilian rule? Is it power sharing? What are protesters saying?

PERALTA: They're angry. I spoke to Mohamed Babikir (ph) who is part of the Forces of Freedom and Change, a coalition that have led these protests calling for Hamdok's reinstatement. And he says that the military men who led to this coup are criminals who have killed unarmed civilians and that Hamdok should not be negotiating with them. Let's listen.

MOHAMED BABIKIR: Now if Mr. Hamdok need to continue with the military, we will stop him. We will say to him also go away. We are thinking about clear civil government in Sudan.

PERALTA: So they want the military out of government period. And now they're feeling betrayed by their own civilian leader.

INSKEEP: They don't want the civilian leader to be co-opted, in effect, by the military. So what are the prospects that this purported return to civilian rule survives in any form?

PERALTA: Look, that's too early to tell. But for the first time, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok seems totally out of step with the young people on the streets. But Hamdok has always been pragmatic. He's realistic that the military is the one who has the guns. So pushing them out of the process is impossible without a huge amount of bloodshed. So he has turned the other cheek many other times to try to salvage some of the big steps Sudan has taken toward a democracy. And maybe that's what's happening here and in other instances, the young idealistic protesters have come to understand where he's coming from, and even though that looks unlikely right now, maybe that's what happens again.

INSKEEP: NPR's Eyder Peralta, pleasure, thanks.

PERALTA: Thank you, Steve.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOULAR ORDER'S "AN ISLAND") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.