Sudan army agree to share power with civilians

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Protesters rallying outside the Armed Forces Square in Khartoum on April 28, 2019 call for the release of a prisoner detained in recent demonstrations. (AP Photos/Salih Basheer)
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A protester carries a Sudanese flag as they chant against military rule and demand the prosecution of former officials, at the Armed Forces Square, in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday April 28, 2019. Sudanese protest leaders held talks with the ruling military council on Sunday after the military condemned an attack on an Islamist party close to President Omar al-Bashir, who was removed from power and jailed earlier this month. (AP Photos/Salih Basheer)
Updated 29 April 2019

Sudan army agree to share power with civilians

  • Activists say the new council could be a 15-member body, with eight civilians and seven army generals
  • The joint civilian-military council will be the overall ruling body

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protesters Sunday welcomed a breakthrough in talks with army rulers who agreed to form a joint civilian-military council, paving the way for a civilian administration as demanded by demonstrators.
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 amid massive protests.
“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 headquarters.
“We are happy by the progress in the talks, but we are still waiting for the composing of the council and the civilian government.”
The joint civilian-military council will be the overall ruling body, while a new transitional civilian government is expected to be formed to run the day to day affairs of the country, a key demand of protesters.
That civilian government will work toward having the first post-Bashir elections.
“When we have a civilian government, then we can say our country is on the right track,” said Amin.
The demonstrators said they will 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.
Protest leader Ahmed Al-Rabia confirmed to AFP the decision of forming a joint council.
“We are now in consultation about what percentage of the council should be represented by civilians and how much by the military,” said Rabia, who is involved in talks.
Activists say the new council could be a 15-member body, with eight civilians and seven army generals.
The decision to have a joint council came after hours-long talks on Saturday, the first such by a joint committee representing the current ruling military leadership and protesters.
Bashir was ousted by the army after months of protests against his three-decade rule.
Thousands of demonstrators, braving volleys of tear gas fired by security forces, reached the sprawling military headquarters on April 6, demanding that the army support those opposing Bashir.
Five days later, the army toppled Bashir but then took power into its own hands through a 10-member transitional military council.
Protest leaders had previously held several rounds of inconclusive talks with the military council since Bashir was ousted.
The military council has so far insisted that it has assumed power for a two-year transitional period.
Western governments have expressed support for protesters’ demands, but Sudan’s key Gulf Arab lenders have backed the military council, while African states have called for more time for the army to hand over to civilians.
Buses bringing protesters kept arriving Saturday at the protest site, with hundreds of protesters coming from the eastern province of Kassala, an AFP photographer said.
As the joint committee met on Saturday, top opposition leader and former premier Sadiq Al-Mahdi told reporters Sudan should “immediately” join the International Criminal Court.
Bashir is wanted by The Hague-based tribunal for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the conflict in Darfur, but the 75-year-old has repeatedly denied the charges against him.
The war in Darfur erupted in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum’s Arab-dominated government, accusing it of social and political marginalization.
The United Nations says about 300,000 people have died in the conflict, with another 2.5 million displaced, many of them still living in miserable camps across the western region of the country.
Protest group spokesman Amjad Farid told reporters that Bashir and other regime figures could be tried in Sudan.
“We are not seeking retaliatory measures against them, but we want to rebuild our justice system to hold them accountable for their crimes,” he said.
Mahdi, who was forced from office by Bashir in a 1989 coup, said the army’s ouster of Bashir was “not a military coup.”
But he warned that Bashir cronies were still clinging on to power despite the upheaval.
“The toppled regime might still try to do a coup,” he said without elaborating.


Sudan’s government, rebels start peace talks in Juba

Updated 56 min 54 sec ago

Sudan’s government, rebels start peace talks in Juba

  • The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the rebels, according to the agreement
  • Achieving peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan

CAIRO: Sudan’s new transitional government met with rebel leaders on Monday, kicking off peace talks aimed at ending the country’s yearslong civil wars.
The peace initiative was built into a power-sharing deal between Sudan’s army and its pro-democracy movement. That deal was reached after the overthrow of longtime autocrat President Omar Al-Bashir in April. The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the rebels, according to the agreement.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir is hosting the talks in its capital, Juba, where some rebel groups signed a draft agreement last month that detailed a roadmap for the talks, trust-building measures and an extension of a cease-fire already in place.
South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war. But in the 2000s, Sudan was most known for Al-Bashir’s brutal repression of an uprising in the western Darfur region.
Achieving peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan. It has counted on ending the wars with rebels in order to revive the country’s battered economy through slashing the military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.
Sudanese authorities have introduced good-will signals. They dismissed death sentences against eight rebel leaders and released more than a dozen prisoners of war. They have also delayed the formation of the parliament and the appointment of provincial governors to allow time for the rebels to come on board.
The government delegation, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, a member of the Sudan’s sovereign council, arrived in Juba late Sunday. Rebel leaders arrived earlier this month.
Rebel leader Malik Agar of the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of Darfur rebel groups, told The Associated Press that they would start “the official opening” of the talks Monday in Juba.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s sovereign council, also arrived in Juba to attend the opening session, along with other African leaders including Egypt’s Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, according to the official SUNA news agency.
Ethiopia and the African Union mediated the power-sharing agreement in August which ended months of violence and faltering talks between Sudan’s generals and protesters following the uprising against Al-Bashir.
On Sunday, Sudan’s newly appointed top judicial officials were sworn in before Burhan.
Neamat Kheir, a veteran female judge, took the oath as chief of the judiciary. She’s the first woman to rise to Sudan’s highest judicial post. Taj Al-Ser Al-Hebr, a lawyer, was sworn in as the country’s public prosecutor.
Last month, thousands of Sudanese took to the streets demanding the two original appointees be sacked. Those two were chosen by the military council that ruled Sudan after ousting Al-Bashir.
Protesters had insisted that independent judges be appointed before prosecuting members of the old regime, as well as those responsible for a deadly crackdown on protesters in June.
Unlike many judges, Kheir was not known to compromise her integrity to serve the interests of Al-Bashir’s government. However, she was widely criticized for not having supported the Sudanese uprising since its inception.