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Protesters demand civilian rule once again in Sudan


How do protesters in Sudan respond to what they see as an incomplete return to civilian rule? The military ousted a civilian government, then restored the prime minister to power, under pressure. But the military did not step away from power itself.

NPR's Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta is in Khartoum, where people have been planning protests. And Eyder, what's happening where you are now?


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Non-English language spoken).

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: So look, we are on the move right now. You can probably hear the chants. Protests have just kicked off. And we're in the middle of Khartoum. And, you know, what is happening now is that protesters are building barricades. And that means that they've taken cobblestones from the medians, and they've made walls in the middle of a huge intersection here in Khartoum. And they're burning tires. And this is to keep the military out of their neighborhoods. If you remember, since these protests started, more than 50 protesters have been killed. And their ask is simple. They want a full civilian government.

INSKEEP: How peaceful do the protests seem so far? I hear people clapping and chanting. It almost sounds cheerful.

PERALTA: Look, these protests have been peaceful from the beginning - since 2019, when they toppled Omar al-Bashir. However, the military regime in this country has often responded violently. They often, you know, come into these protests, and they have - you know, they shoot tear gas. And they have opened fire with live rounds.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about the military's response to this. The military already faced pressure after overthrowing the civilian government - put the civilian prime minister back in place - said, look, protesters, we're doing what you want. And the protesters are dissatisfied. What is the military saying about that?

PERALTA: Look, both the military and the civilian leader have basically ignored these protests, and in part because it's clear that protesters are simply unhappy with this deal. The big organizers of these protests - the Forces of Freedom and Change - have said that if the civilian prime minister continues to allow the military to rule, they will also come after him. And look, the thing is, we still don't have a clear idea of the details of this deal. But there was one huge promise - that all the civilian leaders who were arrested would be released. Some of them have been released. But a lot are still under detention. So the people here on these streets are asking, why should they trust the military, and why should they trust their civilian leader, Abdalla Hamdok?

INSKEEP: Give us one more glimpse of where you are. What's happening on the streets in front of you, and what is it that we're hearing?

PERALTA: So look, we are in the middle of Khartoum. And most shops are closed. And what people are doing here - protesters - there's hundreds of them - are building barricades to keep the military out, in order for them to continue to peacefully protest. They're calling for hundreds of thousands of people to join them. And we'll see if that happens.

INSKEEP: NPR's Eyder Peralta is in Khartoum, Sudan.

We'll continue listening for your reporting. Thanks so much, and happy Thanksgiving.

PERALTA: Thank you, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.