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World Tour - Khartoum’s democratic crisis


WORLD Radio - World Tour - Khartoum’s democratic crisis

Protesters in Sudan demand a return to self-government amid the latest coup

People chant slogans during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Marwan Ali/Associated Press Photo

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: a WORLD Tour special report on the coup in Sudan. Here’s our reporter in Africa, Onize Ohikere.

AUDIO: [Sounds of protests]

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Thousands of people turned out in major cities across Sudan over the weekend to protest last week’s coup. They carried signs and shouted “No, no to military rule!”

Police responded with force, firing tear gas and live rounds. Medics reported at least three protesters died and more than 100 suffered injuries. The Central Committee of Sudan's Doctors say at least 12 people have died since the October 25th military takeover.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was among many world leaders who condemned the violence.

GUTERRES: I want to reaffirm my strong condemnation of the coup, and the need to reestablish the transition system that was in place. I urge the military to show restraint and not to create any more victims. People must be allowed to demonstrate peacefully.

Following the coup, the African Union voted to suspend Sudan's membership. It called the military takeover “unconstitutional.” Both the World Bank and the United States froze aid to the country.

Jonas Horner is a senior analyst for Sudan at the International Crisis Group. He says the swift response caught Sudan’s military leaders by surprise.

HORNER: The international community has been mightily disapproving of this coup, and that opprobrium has in many ways taken both the coup makers in Sudan and some of their allies aback and that I think reflects the archetypal way that so many have seen Sudan’s transition as a beacon, as an inspiration and how much disappointment there has been that this coup has wound things back considerably by perhaps a couple of years.

Sudan’s military leaders helped topple longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir two years ago. The military set up a transitional government and planned to hand over control to a civilian leader on November 17th.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan says his decision to dissolve the government is not a coup.

BURHAN: [Man speaking Arabic]

In a press conference last week, Burhan promised he would form a new government soon. But he also said the military would not hold elections until at least July 2023.

Analysts say even that seems unlikely. Sudan’s military takeover follows a worrisome trend in several African countries. Military leaders in Mali staged a coup there in May. And in Guinea, military officers toppled longtime President Alpha Condé last month.

In all three countries, the military has used mismanagement, corruption, and poverty as justification for its takeover. Analysts say until those problems are solved, democracy will remain under threat.

Alex de Waal is executive director of the World Peace Foundation. He says Sudan’s latest upheaval may not last long.

WAAL: It's quite possible that this coup could actually unravel. It doesn’t command any kind of popular assent, it doesn't have even the sympathies of anyone in a spectrum of civilian politics. And the military could find themselves very isolated and forced to step back.

Jonas Horner agrees.

HORNER: I think it will be hard for the military to wash away the stain of this coup, and the concern also is that any accord is insufficiently tested on the street — the street does have its own voice, it’s not always cohesive but it really does know what it wants out of the military, which is to see it step aside more readily, to be a much smaller part of this transition and for civilians really to take the lead.

That’s it for this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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