A pro-democracy protester wearing a turquoise blue scarf flashes the victory sign as thousands take to the streets to condemn a takeover by military officials, in Khartoum, Sudan, Oct. 25, 2021.

Sudanese protester to military: ‘Our numbers are too big to be ignored’

"They can’t kill us all," says Dalia Abdel-Moneim, a Khartoum resident who took to the streets among thousands of other Sudanese protesters in defiance of the military coup.

The World

A pro-democracy protester flashes the victory sign as thousands take to the streets to condemn a takeover by military officials, in Khartoum, Sudan, Oct. 25, 2021.

Ashraf Idris/AP

Today in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, calls for civil disobedience came blaring from a loudspeaker attached to a mosque. One voice urged citizens not to go to work to punish the military for betraying the revolution.

Related: Protests erupt across Sudan against military coup 

Yesterday, top generals seized power in Sudan. The military has cut most phone and internet services. Protesters have created blockades of burning tires, and soldiers are pursuing them — reportedly going door to door. Troops fired on crowds a day earlier, killing four protesters, according to doctors.

Sudan’s ruling general said Tuesday that deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdock was being held for his own safety and would likely be released soon. But he warned that other members of the dissolved government could face trial as protests against the putsch continued in the streets.

Related: Sudan's troubled attempt at education reform

The takeover came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and civilian leaders over the course and the pace of Sudan’s transition to democracy. It threatened to derail that process, which has progressed in fits and starts since the overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.

Related: After the revolution, a secular Sudan?

Dalia Abdel-Moneim, a Khartoum resident, joined The World's host Carol Hills to discuss the situation in the nation's capital, where she says the city is tense after all businesses and shops closed, except a few local bodegas. 

"It's literally a major strike." 

Daliah Abdel-Moneim, protester, Khartoum, Sudan

"It's literally a major strike," Abdel-Moneim said. "Anyone who's out on the street is either going to try and get supplies or just trying to get to family or something. But the city is pretty much dead, and that's, I think, the case throughout the whole country." 

Carol Hills: There were reports of protests in some places. Soldiers on the streets using live ammunition reportedly have killed at least 10 people — 140 wounded. Do you think the Sudanese army will back down in the face of this kind of violence?
Dalia Abdel-Moneim: Absolutely not. If anything, when we went out in 2018 and we stood up strong against [former dictator] Omar al-Bashir and his army, it proved to us that, you know, nothing scares us and we've reached the point of no return. We really can't go back and accept this attempted coup by the military. We'll just keep pushing forward, we'll keep protesting, we'll keep going out in numbers and that the day we're 40 million, there's only so many bullets that the army can have. And even if they shoot at us, they can't kill us all. I mean, honestly, personally, for me, I've just reached that point where I'm like: Do it. Nothing's going to stop us. We really are not going to take it lying down, so to speak.
You sound defiant. How broad is popular resistance to this coup? Does it extend beyond major cities? 
I mean, I'm getting videos of protests in Port Sudan. You know, we're getting calls from all other cities in the country. It's not just Khartoum. We've all been burned by the military in the past. I mean, we have history with the military. It's not good history, and there's no way we will allow history to repeat itself, so to speak. So honestly, I don't think anyone will accept this attempted coup. We're going to stand up to ... we will do whatever we can within our means, and within our limited means, to make sure that what we, the people, want comes to fruition. We want a civilian government. We fought long and hard to have a civilian government, and we're determined to get it. I can't fathom the idea that I can go back to being ruled by the military again. I just can't.
Sudan's top General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said today that Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is at his home and he was in good health and will return home when the crisis is over. He didn't use the word under "arrest." What do you make of that?
OK, why wasn't he sitting next to him? If he's fine, if he's not under arrest, why not bring him out? Let him speak to the people. Why did you arrest the other ministers? Why are you firing at the protesters? If you're really trying to save him, be the savior of the revolution. Why cut the internet? Why switch off our phones? The transitional government was a partnership between the military and the civilians, and yet he's putting all the blame on the civilians. If you are a part of the revolution and you do want to save the revolution, you do not go about it by arresting ministers, beating them up, taking them to unknown locations and then coming up today and saying, "Oh yes, the prime minister is with me." Where is he? We want proof. Why isn't the prime minister speaking to us?
It's always been a kind of fragile thing — the civilian-military government. Were you worried something like this would happen?
Oh, please. I mean, all revolutions are messy. You know, you don't slice it and it comes out in perfect shape. There will always be mistakes made. There will always be problems arising. And we are talking about the destruction of a country for over 30 years. So you're not going to rebuild it in a day or even a year or two, it's going to take time. But we also have to look at the successes that the government has achieved in that short period of time. We were removed from the terrorist-supporting list. We got the sanctions lifted from Sudan. Our debt was relieved. You know, we're getting loans. We're getting help, financial, economic help and development help. You know, we've been welcomed back into the international arena, when for 30 years, we were treated as a pariah state. We were taking the steps in the right direction. And then for the military to come in and then announce that they've overthrown the government. No, you haven't overthrown the government because we, the people, choose the government that we want to govern us.
Then, what is behind this power grab? I mean, did military leaders fear prosecution or just a loss of access to lucrative contracts? Why now? 
I think it's a number of reasons. I think the whole ICC [International Criminal Court] ​​issue coming up was a problem. They weren't enjoying the power that they used to before. I think there's also these fractions within the military itself. I mean, I'm not denying it. There were problems between the civilian and the military side, and there are problems in the country that weren't being addressed properly by the government, but at the end of the day, I don't think the military was willing to step aside and let the civilians take control, with the exception of Sadiq al-Mahdi's rule. The military has always been in power, always — ever since we gained independence. So I don't think it was easy for them to be shunted to the side, so to speak.
The Biden administration yesterday suspended $700 million in financial aid to Sudan. Does that matter to the coup plotters? I mean, do they have other financial lifelines?
Honestly, I don't think it would make an iota of a difference, because I think they have allies with much deeper pockets, and they will be more than happy to foot the bill, so to speak. 
Can you imagine military and civilian officials in Sudan sharing power again? Can that idea be revived or is it kind of all or nothing at this point?
Honestly, that's the best solution that we could have, because the military is a strong presence. It is a strong entity. We can't ignore it. Can we do it without them? Realpolitik says no. But what we do need is we need two parties who will put the best interests of this country and its people at the forefront. It's not about my political party or your military leanings or my allies and your allies. It's about what's best for this country and its people. And if we can find leaders who are willing to do that, then I think we would be on the right track. But will we find leaders like that? On paper, yes. But in reality, things always change.
Dalia, do you intend to keep protesting and to continue to fight back?
We're all adamant. You know, we've come too far to go back now. I went out not expecting the numbers to be so large last Thursday, and I was shocked at how many people came out and just proved to me that we are all in the same boat. We all want the same thing. Doesn't matter what age, gender, race, class or where you're from. At the end of the day, we're all Sudanese and we want what's best for our country. And that gave me hope that we're more aware, we know what's happening. They can't fool us anymore, and we will protest until the very bitter end, if need be. But I honestly believe that just like they reached a compromise on June 30, 2019, they will reach a compromise again because our numbers are too big to be ignored.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. AP contributed to this report. 

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