Sudan’s generals agree to share power with civilians

Updated July 06, 2019

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The deal was brokered by Ethiopian and African Union mediators. — AFP/File
The deal was brokered by Ethiopian and African Union mediators. — AFP/File

KHARTOUM: Crowds of jubilant Sudanese took to the streets of Khartoum on Friday to celebrate a landmark deal between protest leaders and the country’s ruling generals aimed at turning the page on months of political unrest.

The power-sharing deal, reached in the early hours after two days of hard-won talks brokered by Ethiopian and African Union mediators, came after a previous round of negotiations collapsed in May over who should lead the new body — a civilian or soldier.

“The two sides agreed on establishing a sovereign council with a rotating military and civilian (presidency) for a period of three years or little more,” African Union (AU) mediator Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt told reporters.

Sudan has been gripped by political deadlock since the generals ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir in a palace coup in April following months of mass protests nationwide.

The deal was brokered by Ethiopian and African Union mediators

“We want to reassure all political forces and armed movements and all those who took part in the change... that this agreement is all-inclusive and does not exclude anyone,” the ruling military council’s number two, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said after the deal was reached.

The key protest group that initially launched demonstrations against Bashir in December hailed the deal.

“Today, our revolution has become victorious and our victory shines,” the Sudanese Professionals Assoc­iation said in a statement.

Tension between the two sides had soared after a brutal raid on a longstanding protest camp outside army headquarters in Khartoum that killed dozens of demonstrators and wounded hundreds on June 3.

Lebatt did not specify the exact make-up of the new ruling body, but prominent protest leader Ahmed al-Rabie told AFP it would comprise six civilians, five of them protest movement nominees, and five military representatives.

The SPA said a final draft of the agreement would be ready for signing by the two sides by Monday.

It said the transition would last three years and three months, and confirmed: “The first 21 months will be presided by the military: the last 18 months will be presided over by the civilians.”

Blood not shed in vain

The eagerly waited deal triggered celebrations on the streets of Khartoum into Friday.

Chants of “the martyrs’ blood has not been shed in vain” and “civilian rule, civilian rule”, reverberated around the city as security forces kept a low profile, an AFP correspondent reported.

“Today we can say that our revolution has embarked on the right path in achieving our goals,” said north Khartoum resident Somaiya Hassan.

“I think we will be able to change the horrible situation of our people,” she said, as fellow residents flashed victory signs and waved national flags.

The deal was swiftly welcomed by the United Arab Emirates, which like other Gulf Arab states has been sympathetic to the ruling generals.

“We hope that the next phase will be the establishment of a strong constitutional system that strengthens the role of institutions,” UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2019