July 05, 2019
Representatives of the Transitional Military Council and the Freedom and Change opposition attend negotiations mediated by the African Union and Ethiopian special envoy in Khartoum, Sudan, July 3, 2019. EPA/MORWAN ALI
By Asharq Al-Awsat
KHARTOUM – Sudan’s ruling military council and protest leaders reached an agreement on the disputed issue of a new governing body Friday, in a breakthrough power sharing accord aimed at ending the country’s months-long political crisis.
The landmark agreement came after two days of talks following the collapse of the previous round of negotiations in May over who should lead the new ruling body.
“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 mediator Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt told reporters.
Sudan has been rocked by a political crisis since the army ousted longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April on the back of widespread protests, with the generals who seized power resisting demonstrators’ demands to hand it over to a civilian administration.
The sides agreed to five seats for the military and five for civilians with an additional seat going to a civilian with military background.
“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,” deputy chief of the ruling military council General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo said in a statement.
Tension between the two sides had further soared after a brutal raid on a longstanding protest camp outside army headquarters in the capital Khartoum that killed dozens of demonstrators and wounded hundreds on June 3.
The latest round of talks had resumed Wednesday after intense mediation by Ethiopian and African Union envoys.
The blueprint proposes a three-year transition period, with the president of the new ruling body to be held by the military for the first 18 months and a civilian for the second.
However, it was still unclear if both sides had signed off on the military holding the post first.
Lebatt said that both sides have now also “agreed to have a detailed, transparent, national, independent investigation into all the regrettable violent incidents that the country faced in recent weeks,” including the June 3 raid.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday had called on Sudanese authorities to lift restrictions on the internet and properly investigate all acts of violence and allegations of excessive use of force.
Elizabeth Murray, Senior Program Officer, Middle East and Africa at the United States Institute of Peace, told Asharq Al-Awsat that formation of a transitional civilian government is an important step in setting the stage for transparent elections, which cannot be held in such an atmosphere.