After months of bloody deadlock, tens of thousands poured out on to the streets to celebrate a deal between military leaders and pro-democracy activists
Thousands of Sudanese have taken the streets on Friday not to express their anger against the military council, but to celebrate a landmark deal between the country’s ruling military council and pro-democracy movement that aims to end months of political impasse and violence.
“The two sides on establishing a sovereign council with a rotating military- civilian (presidency) for a period of three years or little more”, African Union mediator Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt said.
The power-sharing deal, reached after two days of talks brokered by Ethiopian and African Union officials, came after a previous round of negotiations collapsed in May over who should lead the ruling council- a civilian or a military general.
According to the agreement, the protesters and the military rulers agreed to five seats for the military and five for civilians with an additional seat going to a civilian with a military background.
Sudan has been in the headlines since last December when months of nationwide protests brought the end of Omar Bashir’s 30-year rule. During his rule, the vast African country suffered from a deadly clampdown on civil rights and a brutal military campaign against ethnic minorities and civil wars.
However, when the military seized power after Bashir in April, Sudanese citizens remained on the streets to resist the generals and demand a civilian administration. But the military has not been willing to cede power.
To prevent civilians from organising protests, the military council shut off the internet for a month and brutally shut down sit-ins. On June 3, the army and paramilitary militias dispelled a major sit-in in the capital Khartoum and killed more than 100 people.
African Union mediator Lebatt said, the two sides also “agreed to have a detailed, transparent, national, independent, investigation into all the regrettable violent incidents that the country faced in recent weeks.
At least 136 people have been killed across the country since June 3, according to doctors close to umbrella pro-democracy movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change.
Negotiations resumed earlier this week, following massive protests last weekend in which tens of thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of Sudan’s main cities in the biggest show of numbers since the razing of the protesters’ sit-in camp. At least 11 people were killed in clashes with security forces, according to protest organisers.
“Our victory shines”
“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.
“Today, our revolution has become victorious and our victory shines” the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA), which leads the months of nationwide unrest, said in the statement.
It said that 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 by the civilians”.
SPA also said a final draft of the agreement would be ready to sign by the two sides on Monday.
“Today we can say that our revolution has embarked on the right path in achieving our goals”, said Somaiya Hassan, a protester celebrating the deal.
“I think we will be able to change the horrible situation of our people”, she said, flashing a victory sign.