The power-sharing agreement reached between Sudan’s military and pro-democracy protesters last week came after the US and its Arab allies applied intense pressure on both sides amid fears a prolonged crisis could tip the country into civil war, activists and officials said.
The agreement, which raised hopes of a democratic transition following the military overthrow of former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir in April, was announced days after the protesters held mass marches through Khartoum and other areas.
However, those familiar with the negotiations say that the main breakthrough happened at a secret meeting the day before the protests, when diplomats from the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pressed the two sides to accept proposals from the African Union and Ethiopia.
“It was a tense, but crucial meeting. It melted the ice,” a leading activist said on condition of anonymity to discuss the back-room negotiations. “The meeting was the cornerstone of Friday’s deal.”
The two sides agreed on a jointly run sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organized. A military leader is to head the council for the first 21 months followed by a civilian leader for the next 18.
They also agreed on an independent Sudanese investigation into security forces’ deadly crackdown on the protests last month — although it was unclear if anyone will be held accountable. The military also agreed to restore the Internet after a weekslong blackout.
Much could still go wrong and last month’s violence erupted at a similarly hopeful moment, but for now the deal appears to be on track, with the two sides expected to formally sign it this week.
Two leading activists, a Sudanese military official and two Egyptian officials, described intense US efforts to force a deal after veteran diplomat Donald Booth was appointed special envoy in the middle of last month.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the talks.
US Department of State officials declined to comment on US efforts to broker the deal, saying only that Washington welcomes the agreement and commends the African Union and Ethiopia for their mediation efforts.
The Arab officials said that the US not only ramped up pressure on the military, but also on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which supported the military’s overthrow of al-Bashir and sided with the generals when the protesters remained in the streets.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,