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July 18, 2019

Sudanese mly, protesters sign power-sharing document


July 18, 2019

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s ruling military and the pro-democracy movement have signed a document as part of a power-sharing deal meant to end the country’s political deadlock.

The two sides — representatives from the military council and the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which represents the protesters — signed a political declaration following weeks of stalled talks.

It is one of two documents that are part of the deal. The other document, a constitutional declaration, is likely to be signed within days. The ceremony took place on Wednesday in the country’s capital, Khartoum, and representatives of both sides shook hands afterwards.

The signing is a key step in the country’s transition after months of street protests that prompted the military to oust autocratic ruler Omar al-Bashir and take over the country in April.

The protesters, despite initially cheering the removal of al-Bashir, remained on the streets for several weeks, demanding the military hand over power to a civilian authority.

The military and the pro-democracy movement had agreed earlier this month on a joint sovereign council that will rule Sudan for around three years while elections are organised.

The power-sharing deal, which also includes a cabinet appointed by the pro-democracy movement, was meant to end weeks of deadlock between the two sides since a Khartoum protest sit-in was razed by security forces last month.

Protest organisers say security forces killed at least 128 people during that dispersal and subsequent crackdown.

Authorities, however, put the death toll at 61, including three members of the security forces. On June 30, tens of thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of Khartoum in the biggest show of numbers in the uprising.

At least 11 people were killed in clashes with security forces, according to protest organisers. The two sides subsequently resumed talks and also agreed on an independent Sudanese investigation into the deadly crackdown, though it is unclear if anyone will be held accountable.

“We are ushering in a new era,” Ibrahim al-Amin, a negotiator for the protesters said at Wednesday’s signing ceremony. The upcoming government will be a government of all Sudanese, for all citizens ... we have suffered enough from the totalitarian dictatorial regime.”

Gen Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council, hailed the signing as a “historic moment in Sudan” as representatives of both sides shook hands.

The development came after intensive efforts and pressure form regional and international powers. The African Union and Ethiopia led the diplomatic mediation, following the deadly break-up of the Khartoum protest camp in June.

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