Sudan crisis: military and protest movement sign power-sharing deal

The accord stipulates that a new transitional civilian-military ruling body be established, in a bid to end the country's months-long political crisis

Sudanese deputy chief of the ruling miliary council Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (R) and protest movement Alliance for Freedom and Changes leader Ahmad al-Rabiah stand after inking an agreement before African Union and Ethiopian mediators in Khartoum early on July 17, 2019. Sudan's protesters and ruling generals inked a power sharing deal, paving the way for a civilian administration, a key demand of demonstrators since president Omar al-Bashir was deposed in April. The two sides initialled a document called the "Political Declaration", an AFP correspondent reported, after intense talks through the night over fine details of the agreement.
 / AFP / Haitham EL-TABEI
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Sudan's military council and an alliance of opposition groups agreed on a political accord on Wednesday as part of a power-sharing deal aimed at leading the country to democracy.

Broadcast live on TV, the accord was signed in the capital Khartoum in the presence of African mediators following a night of marathon talks to iron out some details of the agreement reached earlier this month.

Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy chief of the ruling military council who initialled the deal on behalf of the generals, said the agreement was a "historic moment" for Sudan.

It has "opened a new and promising era of partnership between the armed forces, RSF (Rapid Support Forces) and leaders of the glorious Sudanese revolution," Mr Dagalo said in Khartoum after he had put pen to paper.

Ibrahim Al Amin, a key protest leader, confirmed "today, we completed the political declaration".

The sides are still working on a constitutional declaration, for which talks will resume at a later date.

Intense talks took place through the night over details of the political declaration at a luxury hotel on the bank of the Nile river.

As the generals stepped out of the hall after signing the deal, a small crowd - including women waving the national flag - chanted "civilian rule, civilian rule".

Envoys from Ethiopia and the African Union, who had spearheaded mediation efforts, also praised the agreement at Wednesday's ceremony. The US Embassy in Khartoum welcomed the deal and encouraged both sides to "continue the same spirit of cooperation to conclude a constitutional decree."

The overall accord stipulates that a new transitional civilian-military ruling body be established, in a bid to end the country's months-long political crisis.

The governing body will have a total of six civilians and five military representatives.

The six civilians will include five from the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

A general will head the ruling body during the first 21 months of the transition, followed by a civilian for the remaining 18 months, according to the framework agreement.

That body is to oversee the formation of a transitional civilian administration that will govern for just over three years, after which elections would be held.

The breakthrough accord came after a political deadlock that gripped Sudan since the generals ousted former President Omar Al Bashir in a palace coup in April, on the back of months of nationwide mass protests.

Mr Amin said on Wednesday that wider power sharing details would be fleshed out in a "constitutional document" and that talks would resume Friday.

These talks are expected to address whether to grant "absolute immunity" to generals for violence against protesters.

Prior to entering the latest talks on Tuesday evening, protest leader Ahmed Al Rabie said the movement "totally reject" offering immunity.

But military council spokesman General Shamseddine Kabbashi said Wednesday there was "no dispute" over the issue.

Other areas still to be ironed out include the creation of a transitional parliament and a potential RSF withdrawal from Khartoum - the latter an increasingly vocal demand of citizens on the streets.