Efforts In Sudan To Oust The Country's President Succeed
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Military leaders in Sudan say they have overthrown the country's long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir. He's led the country for 30 years. This coup follows months of violent street protests with demonstrators calling for Bashir's resignation. Halima Gikandi is covering this story. She's based in Nairobi and joins me on the line.
Halima, how are you? Thanks for joining us.
HALIMA GIKANDI, BYLINE: Thank you so much for having me.
GREENE: So you have been reporting that - I mean, people have been on the streets in Khartoum and in Sudan just waiting for some sort of news. It appears that news has finally come. Just tell us about the scene and how this news was delivered.
GIKANDI: Sure. So most of the people in this region have been awake since about 6 a.m. - 5 a.m. Sudan time. We didn't know who was going to speak. But we woke up to an announcement for the state news agency that the military was going to give an important announcement. So some of my sources on the ground went sledding to the scene of the protest, waiting eagerly. Some people were cheering but not really knowing what they were cheering for and what was going to happen. So there's been a lot of anticipation for this moment.
GREENE: And what does this moment mean? This is a leader who's been in power for three decades.
GIKANDI: So the moment's a bit bittersweet for people. On one hand, the biggest demand for demonstrators was for Omar al-Bashir to step down. So on the safe side, it seems as if the demands of the protesters have been met. Some people - a lot of the people out in the protesters are young kids between the age of 15 and 30. Now, Omar al-Bashir has been ruling for nearly 30 years, so almost all of their lives. So it's a big accomplishment on that front, but the actual news that's been delivering is less comforting for protesters because it seems like their second demand, which was to have a transitional government into more of a democracy, has not been met. So it's a bit bittersweet for the protesters out on the ground.
GREENE: So there's a lot of uncertainty here. I mean, the military and their allegiance in recent days - it sounds like has been unclear. And I suppose whenever a military takes over a country, I mean, it's tense when you think about where this might go.
GIKANDI: It's incredibly unclear for everyone. In fact, I was speaking with some activists on the ground of Khartoum since the morning. And they were saying they - what they hope will not happen is that the military will take over. And it's been a complicated situation because in - the situation in Sudan is that there are just various armed military forces that work. On one hand, you have the army, which in the past few days has been shown seeming to protect protesters. On the other hand of that, you have the National Intelligence Agency, which has been known to have done human rights violations. So what does it mean now for demonstrators to be seeing that the military is taking over and will be installing a two-year transitional government consisting of all of those various intelligence agencies?
GREENE: And so just to be clear, have we heard anything from Bashir? Is it absolutely clear that he is truly giving up power here?
GIKANDI: So we have not heard from Omar al-Bashir yet. There have been a number of rumors circulating online, but we have not heard from him. What we have heard of - what we have heard from is the minister of defense, Ibn Awad Mohamed Auf (ph), who - he's, essentially, the No. 2 in Sudan. He was appointed in February to be also - to serve as the vice president. And he said quite clearly that al-Bashir is in custody right now. But some people are concerned that that means - that that the government - that the army is essentially protecting him from facing the ICC.
GREENE: Reporter Halima Gikandi in Nairobi, speaking to us about what appears to be a coup in Sudan - but, obviously, much to follow here.
Halima, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.
GIKANDI: Of course; thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.