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Sudan faces mass protests and arrests after military dissolves civilian government

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, HOST:

Sudan has plunged into uncertainty after its military dissolved the civilian government on October 25. Deadly protests and mass arrests followed over what many call a coup. The military, which has largely been in charge of the country since its formation in 1956, calls it a correction of the 2019 revolution. That's when mass protests deposed President Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled for 30 years. What replaced him was a mixed military and civilian governing structure. We're joined now by Samir Fadol, a political analyst based in the capital of Khartoum. Samir, welcome to the program.

SAMIR FADOL: Thank you for having me.

KURTZLEBEN: Of course. OK. So it's been almost two weeks since the military took over. Does the situation feel stable right now?

FADOL: Well, it's quite vague what the future is holding for this many people. Many of the politicians who were part of the power-sharing agreement with the military are under arrest, or we don't know where - their whereabouts. And there's no internet in the country. And most of the people rely their news on what they see on the street because the newspapers - the majority of them are not working. Also, the news media when it comes to TV channels are controlled by the military. So - and also radio stations, as well. It's a situation of confusion, as well as instability.

KURTZLEBEN: I see. Now, the military says it wants to support democracy. Do you have a sense of whether there's support among the public for what they're doing?

FADOL: It's interesting how the military is framing this event. On their news channels, they're stating that they're correcting the revolutionary past that started in 2019. And many people are listening and taking that information as firsthand as being like, this is how things are. But the majority, I would say, shown in demonstrations, the 30 of October, where they're refusing the narrative. The military was trying to convey that this is a past correction.

KURTZLEBEN: Now, as I understand it, the cost of staples like bread and sugar has gone down there. And I know the price of bread was one of the rallying cries, really an animating force in the 2019 revolution. How much does that seem to be affecting or not affecting people's opinions?

FADOL: For a very long time, people were struggling with the restructuring of the economy that the prime minister and his cabinet were trying to put in place, and it hurt the normal citizen. So it's interesting how the timing of this change - and also, it affected people's lives in a very interesting way because they now see that the prices are down. And (unintelligible) see that as an indicative of the success of the military. And some people are actually calling for the military to rule over.

KURTZLEBEN: Interesting. Well, looking ahead, there's talk of resuming a power-sharing agreement between the military and the civilian government. Does that seem likely to you?

FADOL: It's difficult to see that since the majority of the leadership, the Forces of Freedom and Change, are behind bars. Another issue I think in the statement issued by the military since the 25 of October is that they tried to send a message that we don't need politics in this time and period of the history of Sudan because we need autocrats. This sends a clear message to anyone who is interested in joining politics for the next 18 months or so - would be so afraid that they go behind bars, or they would disappear.

KURTZLEBEN: That is a really tense situation you've sketched out there. I mean, are you worried about the country sliding into mass civil unrest then?

FADOL: If the conversation moved from the constitutional framework that was adopted after the uprising in 2019, it would lead the country to a conflict between its military factions. And the military faction here is not one unified unit. So if they started using their weapons, that would be a problem for the normal citizen because they would be the victims. And this time, it's not in the periphery. It's not in the same place. It's going to be in the center, which is the capital in Khartoum and the major cities.

KURTZLEBEN: That is political analyst Samir Fadol. Samir, thank you so much for your time.

FADOL: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.