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Sudan transition deal signed

August 17, 2019

Months after mass protests erupted, the main opposition coalition and the ruling military council have signed off on plans for a transitional government. If it works, Sudan could return to civilian rule in three years.

Military and civilian leaders celebrate the signing of the transitional deal
Image: Getty Images/AFP/E. Hamid

Crowds filled the streets of Sudan's capital Khartoum on Saturday after the ruling military council and the main opposition coalition inked a final agreement for a transitional government.

The Constitutional Declaration, which was finalized on August 4, paves the way for a return to civilian rule following the military overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April.

The historic deal was signed by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, deputy chief of the military council, and opposition leader Ahmed al-Rabie, during a ceremony at a hall by the River Nile in Khartoum.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, and the heads of other neighboring countries, were also present for the signing, which one resident hailed as a chance for a "new Sudan."

Joint council to enforce power-sharing

Under the plan, a joint military and civilian sovereign council will rule for a little over three years until elections can be held. A military leader will head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18.

The composition of the council wasn't set to be announced until Sunday. But later on Saturday, a spokesperson for the military council told Sky News Arabia the new panel would include the current de-facto head of state Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Lieutenant General Yasser Al-Atta.

Read more: Sudan plots path towards democracy

The final deal brings an end to nearly eight months of upheaval that saw masses mobilize, first against Bashir's 30-year authoritarian rule, and then against the military.

More than 250 people were killed during the unrest, including scores in June when armed men in military fatigues moved in on the protest camp outside the army headquarters and dispersed thousands of people still gathered there.

Months of wrangling

The military and the main opposition alliance, known as the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), have been negotiating the power-sharing agreement for months.

Read more: EU suspends migration control projects in Sudan amid repression fears

On Thursday, former senior United Nations official Abdalla Hamdok, a veteran economist, was designated as transitional prime minister.

His first job will be to try to stabilize Sudan's languishing economy, left in tatters in 2011 when the oil-rich South Sudan gained its independence.

Sudan's stability is seen as crucial for a volatile region struggling with conflict and insurgencies from the Horn of Africa to Egypt and Libya.

But skeptics question whether the ruling council will be able to keep a tight grip on the military's power during the three-year period leading to planned elections.

mm/jlw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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