Mediator Says Sudan's Power-Sharing Talks To Get Back On Track Soon

Jun 12, 2019
Originally published on June 12, 2019 8:13 am
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

In Sudan, protesters and military leaders will resume talks, quote, "soon." A mediator says talks over who will run Sudan's transitional government are getting back on track. Last week, these negotiations broke down after dozens of pro-democracy demonstrators staging a sit-in were killed by a Sudanese paramilitary group. That led to a nine-day strike that brought the capital Khartoum to a near standstill. NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta is in Khartoum.

Hey, Eyder.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hey, Noel.

KING: What are you seeing in the streets of Khartoum today?

PERALTA: Things, you know, they're a bit more normal. Shops are open. People are out. There's more traffic, but there's still signs that something is very wrong here. The Internet is still off in the entire country. And the militia, the Rapid Support Forces, they're still patrolling. They have big guns and sticks and whips.

KING: OK, so very scary for people there, even if things are calm. The military is in control for the moment. You've been talking to people. Is anyone saying, look. We're hopeful that we will return to - that we will get a civilian government? - because it's been a long time in Sudan.

PERALTA: Yeah. I mean, just a few weeks ago - you know, the Sudanese I spoke to, they were emboldened. And every corner, I heard people calling for democracy, calling for a civilian government. And today I heard people calling for military rule. But it's important to keep in mind that people are scared. This is a country that has been terrorized the past week.

I was talking to an activist, Radwan Daoud. And he told me the story of a young friend who was 17. He was building a road block, and he was shot. And they tried to take him to the hospital, but they ran into some paramilitary guys. Here's what he says happened next.

RADWAN DAOUD: One of the soldiers, he said, I think he's just pretending to be dead. Let us check him out. And then they beat him with a stick.

PERALTA: When he was already...

DAOUD: He's already dead. And then the other solider said, I think he's gone. He used the word that you only use for animals.

PERALTA: So activists are scared. You know, they're leaving the country. They're in hiding. I spoke to one guy on the street today who told me, look. We built this big, beautiful democratic revolution. And now all we've gotten is a capital city full of troops.

KING: And when people in Sudan - when negotiators on both sides say that talks are going to resume soon, what does that mean - especially with the capital on edge this way? Are we talking hours, days, weeks?

PERALTA: We don't know, actually. The opposition is saying that they have a series of demands that need to be met before they go back to the negotiating table. One of those is that the troops are taken off the street and the Internet is back on. And we don't know when that's going to happen.

KING: And, Eyder, the people you've talked to who've said, we want military rule, are they saying, essentially, we just want things to be calm?

PERALTA: It's hard to tell, Noel. Like, you know, I get the feeling that they're saying that because they're scared.

KING: NPR's Eyder Peralta in Khartoum.

Eyder, thanks so much. Be safe.

PERALTA: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.