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Sudanese protesters, military leaders both welcome power-sharing agreement

Sudan's ruling military council and its pro-democracy movement both welcomed a new power-sharing agreement reached Friday, raising hopes that the deal would end a three-month political crisis that has paralyzed the country and led to scores of deaths following a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters by authorities.

Joint sovereign council to rule country during transitional period

People in Khartoum chant slogans and wave the Sudanese flag in celebration of Friday's power-sharing agreement between the ruling military council and a coalition of opposition and protest groups. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

Sudan's ruling military council and its pro-democracy movement both welcomed a new power-sharing agreement reached Friday, raising hopes that the deal would end a three-month political crisis that has paralyzed the country and led to scores of deaths following a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters by authorities.

News of the deal, which one analyst said followed regional and international pressure on both sides, touched off street celebrations in the capital of Khartoum with hundreds dancing and waving Sudan's flag as drivers honked their horns. The crisis has gripped Sudan ever since the military ousted longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April.

"Today, our revolution has won and our victory shines," read a statement posted early Friday on the Facebook page of the Sudanese Professionals' Association, which has spearheaded the protests.

The generals also hailed the deal, with the military-controlled Al-Sudan TV channel playing national songs and rerunning excerpts of the news conference by both sides announcing the agreement, with the caption: "Congratulations to the Sudanese people."

"This deal will be comprehensive and will not exclude anyone and will meet the ambitions of the Sudanese people and their victorious revolution," said Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy chief of the ruling military council, speaking at the news conference with protest leaders and African mediators.

Watch people in Sudan celebrate the power-sharing agreement:

An emerging power-sharing deal between Sudan's ruling military council and a coalition of opposition and protest groups could break the political impasse that has gripped the country since Omar al-Bashir's ouster in April. 0:55

In the months following Bashir's ouster, protesters stayed in the streets demanding the generals hand over power to a civilian leadership. Talks collapsed when security forces razed a protest camp outside the military headquarters in Khartoum on June 3 leaving more than 100 killed, according to protesters.

The African Union and Ethiopia made intensive efforts to bring the generals and the protesters back to the negotiating table.

Negotiations resumed earlier this week, after tens of thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of Sudan's main cities over the weekend 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 organizers.

"We hope that the formation of transitional institutions marks the beginning of a new era," said Omer El-Digair, a leader of the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a political coalition representing the protesters, at the joint press conference with the military and African mediators following the conclusion of the deal. 

Joint sovereign council to lead

The two parties agreed to form a joint sovereign council to lead the country during a transitional period of three years and three months, according to the SPA statement.

The council will include five civilians representing the protest movement and five military members. An 11th seat will go to a civilian chosen by both parties.

A military member will preside over the council during the first 21 months, followed by a civilian member after, according to the statement.

This suggests a significant concession on the part of pro-democracy forces, which had insisted that the sovereign council have only a civilian president. However, the deal did secure another key demand, that protest leaders select the members of a technocratic cabinet to be formed independently from the generals.

The creation of a legislative council will be postponed for three months, during which time the sovereign council will make the nation's laws.

The two parties also agreed to launch "a national independent investigation" into the killings of protesters since Bashir was ousted on April 11, according to the statement.

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