Thu, May 16, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Sudanese agree to transition period

THREE YEARS:A sovereign council is to be formed, after which a civilian government would run daily affairs, although the council’s makeup has yet to be agreed

AFP, KHARTOUM

Protesters celebrate after an agreement was reached with the military council to form a new government over three years in Khartoum, Sudan, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

The Sudanese army and protest leaders yesterday agreed on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian administration, even as negotiations over a new sovereign ruling body remain unfinished.

The protest movement is demanding a civilian-led transition following 30 years of iron-fisted rule by former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, but the generals who toppled him have been holding onto a leadership role.

Talks between the two sides resumed earlier in the week, but were marred by violence when an army major and five protesters were killed by unidentified gunmen at a long-running sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum.

The two sides early yesterday after nearly 12 hours of negotiations announced that they had reached an agreement on the transition period.

Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta told reporters that a final agreement on the sharing of power, including the forming of the next ruling body — the sovereign council — would be signed with the Alliance for Freedom and Change within a day.

“We vow to our people that the agreement will be completed fully within 24 hours in a way that it meets the people’s aspirations,” Atta said.

The first six months of the transition would be allocated to signing peace accords with rebels in the nation’s war zones such as Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, he said.

Protester Mohammed Abdullah said that he was happy with the way the negotiations had turned out so far.

“We will wait for tomorrow’s talks, but my only question is: ‘Who will guarantee this agreement with the military council?’” he said as thousands of demonstrators gathered for another overnight sit-in.

Army generals had initially insisted on a two-year transition period, while the protest leaders wanted four years.

Key negotiations remain on the composition of the sovereign council, which would replace the ruling body made up solely of generals.

The generals say this should be military-led, while protest leaders want it to be majority civilian.

After the forming of the sovereign council, a new transitional civilian government would be formed to run the nation’s day-to-day affairs and would work toward having elections after the end of the transition period.

Atta said that during the transition period, the legislature would be composed of 300 members, of which 67 percent would be from the alliance, while the rest would be from other political groups.

Meanwhile, the alliance said that the shootings on Monday were an attempt to “disturb the breakthrough” in talks.

Protest leaders, who on Monday had blamed the remnants of al-Bashir’s regime and allied militias, changed their stand on Tuesday.

“We put the whole responsibility on the military council for what happened yesterday, because it’s their direct responsibility to guard and protect the citizens,” Mohammed Naji al-Assam, a prominent figure in the movement, told reporters.

The latest round of talks that opened on Monday come after a break in negotiations that saw protest leaders threaten “escalatory measures” to secure their central demand of civilian rule.

The issue has kept thousands of protesters camped outside army headquarters around the clock ever since al-Bashir’s overthrow.

On Tuesday protesters in the capital’s twin city Omdurman also vented their anger on the streets, gathering in the Abbassiya and al-Arbaa districts with many chanting slogans against the military council, witnesses said.

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