Sudan's protesters and ruling generals on Wednesday inked a power sharing deal that aims to install a civilian administration, a key demand of demonstrators since president Omar al-Bashir was deposed three months ago.
The move loosens a deadlock that has gripped the country, following months of nationwide mass protests that began against Bashir but then continued after a military council deposed him in a palace coup on April 11.
The deputy chief of the military council General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo — who initialled the deal on behalf of the generals on Wednesday — told AFP 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," Dagalo said after he had put pen to paper.
Alongside his position as deputy of the military council, Dagalo heads the RSF, a feared paramilitary organisation. Ibrahim al-Amin, a key protest leader, confirmed "today, we completed the political declaration".
Intense talks took place through the night over details of the agreement at a luxury hotel on the bank of the Nile river in the capital, an AFP correspondent reported.
The landmark power sharing deal, which was agreed in principle on July 5, has been brokered by African Union and Ethiopian mediators after weeks of stop-start negotiations between the protest umbrella group and ruling generals.
"The Transitional Military Council and the Alliance for Freedom and Change have reached a very important agreement that constitutes a crucial step towards a comprehensive reconciliation," said African Union mediator Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt.
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.
This governing body will be comprised of six civilians and five military representatives.
The civilian representation will include five from the Alliance for Freedom and Change.
A general will head the ruling body during the first 21 months of a transition, followed by a civilian for the remaining 18 months, according to the framework agreement.
The governing council is to oversee the formation of a transitional civilian administration that will operate for just over three years, after which elections would be held.
Amin said on Wednesday that wider power sharing details would be fleshed out in a "constitutional document" and that talks would "resume [...] on Friday".
Tensions climaxed on June 3 when armed men in military fatigues stormed a longstanding protest camp in Khartoum, shooting and beating crowds of demonstrators in a pre-dawn raid.
Dozens were killed and hundreds wounded, triggering international outrage — and allegations that the RSF was behind the killings — although the generals insisted they did not order the violent dispersal of protesters.
Talks to fine tune the details of the deal since July 5 had been postponed several times at the request of protest leaders.