Landmark transition deal signed in Sudan

After months of tumult, he country will now be ruled by a sovereign council and a civilians-dominated government

Photo: AFP

Sudan's military council and protest leaders on Saturday signed a hard-won "constitutional declaration" that paves the way for a transition to civilian rule. The agreement was signed by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, deputy chief of the military council, and Ahmed al-Rabie, representing the Alliance for Freedom and Change protest umbrella, an AFP reporter said.

Heads of state, prime ministers and dignitaries from several countries - including Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Egypt's premier Mustafa Madbuli - attended the ceremony in Khartoum, and the signing was met with applause. Shortly after that rapturous crowds filled the streets to cheer.

"This is the biggest celebration I have ever seen in my country. We have a new Sudan," said Saba Mohammed, a veiled 37-year-old woman.

The constitutional declaration builds on a political declaration that was agreed by the military and protesters on 17 July. It formalises the creation of a transition administration that will be guided by an 11-member sovereign council, comprised of six civilians and five military figures. The composition of the civilian-majority transitional ruling council is to be announced on Sunday.

In the meantime, one of the most immediate diplomatic consequences of the compromise reached this month could be Sudan's return to the African Union, which suspended the country's membership in June.

The agreement follows nearly eight months of protests - initially against longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who fell in April, and then against the military council that deposed him. Talks between the protesters and the military were mediated by the African Union and Ethiopia, which brought the two sides together again even after a protest sit-in outside military headquarters was brutally dispersed by men in military fatigues on 3 June. Some 120 people were killed during that crackdown, according to doctors linked to the protesters.

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