Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

Sudanese protest leaders report progress in talks on sharing power with military

Deal could see a civilian administration overseen by a joint military-civilian council

Sudanese continued their protest outside the army headquarters in Khartoum on as their leaders met generals for talks on sharing power on April 27, 2019. AFP
Sudanese continued their protest outside the army headquarters in Khartoum on as their leaders met generals for talks on sharing power on April 27, 2019. AFP

Sudan's generals have agreed to civilian representation on the currently military-run transitional council administering the country following the removal of former president Omar Al Bashir, according to protest leaders involved in the talks.

"We are now in consultation about what percentage of the council should be represented by civilians and how much by the military," Ahmed Al Rabia, one of the protest leaders involved in talks with the military, told Agence France-Presse.

The decision to have a joint council came after hours of talks on Saturday, the first by a joint committee representing the current ruling military leadership and protesters.

Saturday's agreement would replace the existing 10-member military council that took power after the army ousted veteran leader Omar Al Bashir on April 11 after months of protests against his three-decade rule.

On Sunday, protest leaders from the Alliance for Freedom and Change met to discuss the progress of talks with the military council.

The joint committee of the military and protest leaders was expected to resume talks later on Sunday.

Activists say the new council could be a 15-member body, with eight civilians and seven army generals.

Sudanese protesters welcomed a breakthrough, which would pave the way for the civilian administration demanded by demonstrators.

"What happened yesterday is a step to have a civilian authority," said Mohamed Amin, one of thousands of demonstrators who have been camped for weeks outside the army headquarters.

"We are happy about the progress in the talks, but we are still waiting for the composition of the council and the civilian government."

The joint civilian-military council would be the overall ruling body, the protest leaders say, while a new transitional civilian government was expected to be formed to run the day-to-day affairs of the country and work towards having the first post-Bashir elections.

"When we have a civilian government, then we can say our country is on the right track," said Mr Amin.

The demonstrators said they would pursue their sit-in until a civilian administration is set up.

"Last night's agreement is a step forward in the stability of our country. But I don't think we will leave the sit-in until we achieve our demand of a civilian government," said protester Sawsan Bashir.

Thousands of demonstrators, braving volleys of tear gas fired by security forces, reached the sprawling military headquarters on April 6, demanding the army support those opposing Mr Al Bashir.

Five days later, the army toppled Mr Al Bashir and took power through a transitional military council.

Protest leaders had previously held several rounds of inconclusive talks with the council after Mr Al Bashir was ousted.

The military has said it is open to "proportional" civilian representation in its council and the granting of executive powers to civilians. It also said it was consulting with all political factions except Mr Al Bashir's National Congress Party.

Amjad Fareed, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association, one of the main groups that led the anti-Bashir protests, said the latest talks focused on "the nature of the council, whether it is going to be a civilian council with some military representation or just military like the military council insists on. And how long is the transition process."

Two activists within the SPA told Associated Press both sides had reached an "initial deal" to share power in the transitional council. They said Sunday's talks would focus on apportioning representation between the two sides.

Updated: April 28, 2019 10:20 PM

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