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Sudan - transition

Sudan military and civilian leaders sign historic power-sharing deal

Ahmed al-Rabie, from the Alliance for Freedom and Change (R) and Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, from the military council, after the signing the power-sharing, 17 August 2019.
Ahmed al-Rabie, from the Alliance for Freedom and Change (R) and Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, from the military council, after the signing the power-sharing, 17 August 2019. EBRAHIM HAMID / AFP

Sudan's protest leaders and military council have signed a landmark transition deal to civilian rule. Thousands celebrated in the capital Khartoum as the agreement was signed, marking the first in a number of steps over a 39-month period that aims to bring peace and prosperity to the country.

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"Today, the country begins its historic transition to democracy," read the front page of the Tayar newspaper, which reported that people had come to Khartoum from all over Sudan to celebrate the momentous occasion.

The Constitutional Declaration signed on 4 August, helped by talks brokered by the African Union and Ethiopia, was seen as a big step after eight months of protest, triggered in part by a rise in cost of household staples and a lack of oil revenue after South Sudan gained independence in 2011.

Former UN economist Abdalla Hamdok has been agreed upon as the transitional prime minister, who Sudanese hope will stabilise the economy.

Sovereign council

The deal lays out an 11-member, civilian-dominated sovereign council, the composition of which will be announced on Sunday.

The military still has a big hand in the transition, however, including the choice of interior and defence ministers. Its role does not sit well with many, amid fears the army could seize back power if it wanted to.

Security forces have been deployed across the capital for Saturday's signing ceremony – the first event of its kind since sanctions isolated the African state.

Sudanese are hoping that the AU suspension put in place in June will be lifted, and there have been hints that the United States could take Sudan off its ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism’ list.

In a further sign of change, the Al-Jazeera television network said its bureau in Khartoum could reopen after it was shut down in May – part of the widespread media blackout imposed by the military council in an effort to deter protesters before the deadly crackdown at a sit-in in June.

Bashir trial delayed

The corruption trial of ousted 30-year president Omar al-Bashir, a symbol of the country’s military clampdown, had also been slated for Saturday, but has been postponed with no new date announced.

He is accused by the International Criminal Court of carrying out a genocide campaign against the people of Darfur. Human rights group Amnesty International called on Sudan to hand him over to the ICC, a move the military rulers have refused.

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