Sudan's Ruling Military Junta Strike Power-Sharing Deal With Pro-Democracy Activists

Jul 5, 2019
Originally published on July 5, 2019 5:36 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And let's catch up now on the latest from Sudan, where there is word of a development that could - could - bring an end to months of protests and violence. Sudan's ruling military junta has struck a deal with pro-democracy activists. They have agreed to create a joint council to govern the country and to take turns leading that council. The military would go first. A civilian administration would take over after 21 months. For some details, let's bring in NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta. He's covering this. Hey there, Eyder.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So tell us how this agreement came about. Because just this past weekend, just a few days ago, we were reporting on deadly clashes unfolding in Sudan's big cities.

PERALTA: Yeah. I mean, it's been a long time coming. I mean, President Omar al-Bashir, he was deposed in April in a military coup. And since then both sides had been intransigent. Protesters wanted the whole regime to fall, and they wanted sole control of the country. And the military, they had insisted that the protesters were simply not ready to run the country. But, you know, I think this deal is very much a compromise. The council that's going to lead Sudan will be half-civilian, half-military, with one other independent member who will break the tie. But there's just a lot we don't know. I think what we can be certain of is that both sides have deep reservations about this deal.

KELLY: And what are those issues? I mean, get just a little bit into the nitty-gritty of how this might actually work.

PERALTA: Well, I mean, I think one of the big issues that the protesters would have is that the military gets to keep control for almost two years. I mean, these are the same people who have essentially run Sudan for the past 30 years, and they get to keep running Sudan to eventually get it to a point where they have an election.

KELLY: I can imagine all kinds of questions in terms of whether the military, after those 21 months, will in fact want to give up power. I'm sure that's very much on the forefront of the people on the other side's minds.

PERALTA: Yeah. I mean, I think that's one of the big questions. And I also think these types of transitions is the types of transitions that we have seen across the African continent - Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Angola. They all have sort of opted for managed transitions. And we're still at a point in history on the continent where we don't quite know how these transitions will take form.

KELLY: And you mentioned an election will eventually happen down the road. People will, in fact, get to vote on their government at some point?

PERALTA: That is the big vision. You know, Sudan has sort of stumbled from one coup to another for decades. And the big vision that the protesters have is that Sudan can become a democracy. And after this very long three-year transition period, they expect elections.

KELLY: And is that what the military doesn't like? What's their issue with this deal?

PERALTA: Well, look, I think the military, since they ousted al-Bashir, has said that they do want a transition to democracy. And also, the military is not monolithic. There are deep fissures within the security apparatus. And I think it's pretty clear that some parts of it are not very happy with this deal, that they would prefer to stay in power.

KELLY: Reaction among ordinary people in Sudan? How is this playing?

PERALTA: I think they're viewing it as what it is, which is a compromise. I've heard, you know, some protesters say, what are we supposed to do? Do we keep staying on the streets and keep dying? And I've heard a lot of disappointment because a lot of protesters wanted radical change in Sudan. This is gradual change.

KELLY: NPR's Eyder Peralta reporting there on a power-sharing deal that has just been struck between Sudan's ruling military junta and pro-democracy activists. Thank you, Eyder.

PERALTA: Thank you, Mary Louise. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.