Sudan’s ruling military council and a coalition of opposition and protest groups have welcomed a new power-sharing agreement.
Both sides agreed Friday to share power for a period of three years or more until Sudan holds elections. News of the deal set off celebrations in the streets of Khartoum.
The two sides have been holding talks with African Union official Mohamed Hassan Lebatt. He said they agreed that the military and civilians would take turns choosing “a sovereign council” during the transition period.
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA) has led protests calling for civilian rule. The group said in a statement that the sovereign council would lead the country’s transition. It said the council will include five civilians representing the protest movement and five military members. The two sides will choose a civilian as the 11th member.
The group’s statement on the agreement said: “Today, our revolution has won and our victory shines.”
It said the new government will be “technocratic,” meaning the sides will appoint experts in different fields to serve until the country can hold elections. They also promised to launch an independent investigation into violent events in recent weeks.
For now, Sudan will not have a legislative council. The two sides had earlier agreed that the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change (FFC) would take two-thirds of a legislative council’s seats. Then security forces attacked a sit-in protest on June 3, and talks stopped. Protest leaders said more than 100 people died in the military action.
Since then, demonstrators have remained in the streets. They demanded that the generals give power to a civilian leadership.
A new era
Omer El-Digair is a leader of the FFC, a coalition representing the protesters. He said they hoped that forming the new government bodies will lead to improvements.
“We hope that this is the beginning of a new era,” he added.
Tarek Abdel Meguid, another FFC leader, told The Associated Press that pro-democracy leaders had to give up some of their goals to avoid more violence.
“I am not fully satisfied but it is a step forward to bring peace to our people,” Meguid said. “We had a civilian revolution, and the very idea of power sharing with the military was already rejected by the Sudanese people, but this is what the balance of power dictated.”
The African Union and Ethiopia made intensive efforts to bring the generals and the protesters back to the talks.
Congratulations on the revolution
Sudan’s generals also praised the agreement. The military-controlled television station Al-Sudan played national songs and showed parts of the press conference announcing the agreement, with these words below it: “Congratulations to the Sudanese people.”
General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo is the deputy chief of the military council. He told reporters that the agreement would address all the problems and include everyone.
“This deal … will meet the ambitions of the Sudanese people and their victorious revolution,” he said.
Dagalo heads the Rapid Support Forces, accused by the FFC of crushing the sit-in protest. He said, “We thank the African and Ethiopian mediators for their efforts and patience. We also thank our brothers in the Forces for Freedom and Change for the good spirit.”
Joy in the streets
Reuters reported there were celebrations across Omdurman, Khartoum’s sister city across the Nile River, when news of the agreement broke.
Thousands of people of all ages took to the streets. Some of them shouted “Civilian! Civilian! Civilian!” Young men played drums, people sounded horns, and women carrying Sudanese flags cried out in happiness.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Words in This Story
sovereign – adj. having independent authority and the right to govern itself
council – n. a group of people who are chosen to make rules, laws, or decisions about something
transition – n. a movement, from one form to another
era – n. a period of time that is associated with a particular quality, event or person
mediate – n. to work with opposing sides in an argument or dispute in order to get an agreement
ambition – n. the goal of one’s desires; a desire for power or fame
horn – n. a device that makes a loud noise