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The Ouster Of Sudan's President Has Done Little To Quiet Protesters


The fall of Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, has not ended protests there. Protesters pack the streets of the capital, Khartoum or Kar-toom (ph) as we might say it. They've been waving national flags and chanting, freedom. By freedom, they mean that the army which deposed the president should now give way to a four-year civilian government. This is part of a season of protest in North Africa. Algeria's president also lost his job. And as we will hear, the protests are connected, at least in spirit. We called Nima Elbagir in Khartoum. She is a CNN senior international correspondent and has covered Sudan for many years.

So what is it like to be on the streets days after the president has given up power?

NIMA ELBAGIR: It's extraordinary. There is really no other way to describe it. It feels so different. And this is a country that, over a week ago, you needed a permit to play music after 11 o'clock at night. And you walk along the main Nile road near the demonstration site, and people are playing music. They're playing Sudanese hip-hop. They're blaring protest songs. The mood feels like just the hugest party. But underpinning all of that, of course, is this sense of persistence.

Everyone you speak to just exhibits an amazing level of political awareness. All of them know that as far as they're concerned, this fight isn't over - that they see these caretakers, as the military council call themselves, as just the latest in a series of military rulers in Sudan. And they want them gone as well.

INSKEEP: Well, now, I guess we should note that it's Friday. It's the Muslim day of prayer and a day of protest, often, in majority-Muslim nations that have protests. What's today going to be like?

ELBAGIR: It is expected to bring out even greater numbers than we have seen so far because, of course, last Friday was the day that al-Bashir was deposed, where they prayed in their thousands. It was a really emotional sight for a lot of people. And the expectation is that Basaim Shair (ph) - who himself had been detained, tortured and interrogated by al-Bashir's militias, by his security apparatus - that he will lead the prayer again. And he will reinforce and reiterate that as far as he and the men and women praying in the ranks behind him are concerned, this is not yet over.

INSKEEP: Well, the idea that it's not yet over suggests a certain amount of sophistication among the protesters, right? They weren't just focused on the personality of the leader. They want to change the system.

ELBAGIR: Absolutely. There is a huge level of political sophistication in almost everyone we speak to. But there is also this sense of community with - between them, the demonstrators that led the uprising in Egypt, between them and those demonstrating on the streets in Algeria. Social media has been extraordinary for that. When the Algerian protesters went out in the streets, they were actually sending pictures out on Twitter to the Sudanese protesters, holding up signs in Sudanese Arabic saying, she has taken to the streets - because in Sudanese slang, the revolution is referred to in the feminine. And for a lot of people, that's been quite emotional.

INSKEEP: I guess we're just going to have to note that "The Revolution Is A Woman" can be the title of your book when you write it.

ELBAGIR: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: But setting that aside for a moment, are there specific demands that the demonstrators have? Who's making them? And what are the demands?

ELBAGIR: The Sudanese Professionals Association has been the body that has been putting forward the demands in the name of the protesters. They have announced that by Sunday, they will put forth their names for a civilian government. I mean, they are maintaining the pressure with these really granular movements. It's been very interesting to see people who have been used to ruling absolutely faced with such an impassive persistence on the part of the protesters. And it's been very interesting to see a little bit of panic, for the first time in three decades, on the face of a lot of these military men who have been used to just giving out absolute orders.

INSKEEP: Nima Elbagir is reporting for CNN from Khartoum.

Thanks so much.

ELBAGIR: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAXXX'S "MINT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.