UPDATE 3-Sudanese factions agree plan to pave way for transitional governmentReuters | Khartoum | Updated: 03-08-2019 13:33 IST | Created: 03-08-2019 13:29 IST
Sudan's military council and the main opposition coalition have reached an agreement to usher in a new period of the transitional government, the African Union mediator for Sudan said on Saturday. The document, which outlines the powers and the relationships between the branches of the transitional government, comes after weeks of protracted negotiations brokered by the African Union and neighbouring Ethiopia amid sporadic bouts of violence in the capital Khartoum and other cities.
Sudan has been in a state of political turmoil since the army ousted veteran leader Omar al-Bashir in April, with dozens of demonstrators killed during street protests. As news of the agreement emerged, people began gathering on Nile Street, the main avenue in Khartoum, honking car horns and ululating in celebration.
"We're victorious!" some people chanted while others sang the national anthem. The main opposition coalition, the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), welcomed the agreement as a "first step with more to follow" and pledged to complete the journey to "freedom, peace and justice" in Sudan.
AU mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt told a news conference in the early hours that representatives from both sides - civilian pro-democracy groups and the military - will continue talks on Saturday over the technical details of the accord. Legal and technical teams still need to establish a timeline for the declaration to come into effect and for the transitional government to be appointed.
Once the transitional government starts work, Sudan embarks on a three-year transition period expected a lead to elections. Sudan's stability is crucial for the security of a volatile region stretching from the Horn of Africa to Libya that is riven by conflict and power struggles.
Two key points of contention had been the role of Sudan's General Intelligence Service and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the country's most powerful paramilitary group. According to a draft of the declaration seen by Reuters, the intelligence service will report to the cabinet and the sovereign council, the body that will rule the country in the transitional period, while the RSF will fall under the general command of the armed forces.
Nine members of the RSF have been dismissed and detained in connection with the killing of protesters, including four schoolchildren, this week. The sides had previously agreed that the sovereign council will be comprised of 11 members — five officers selected by the military council, five civilians chosen by the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and another civilian to be agreed upon by both sides. Its first leader will be from the military.
When the sovereign council is formed, the current ruling body, a transitional military council headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, RSF commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, will be dissolved. A priority for the transitional government during its first six months in power will be working towards peace with a number of armed groups active in the southern and western regions of the country, Satea al-Hajj, an FFC negotiator, said on Saturday.
Three of those armed groups are members of the FFC under the umbrella of the Revolutionary Front.