Sudan: The Country to Have Three-Year Transition to Civilian Rule

Sudan's military rulers and protest leaders have agreed on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a civilian administration after the deposition of president Omar al-Bashir last month.

Parties must now negotiate the composition of the sovereign council, which replace the existing ruling body currently made up of army generals.

After nearly 12 hours of negotiations, the two sides announced early Wednesday that they had reached an agreement on the transition period. The Transitional Military Council had insisted on a two-year transition, while the protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, wanted four years.

Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta, a member of the military council, told reporters that a final power-sharing agreement, including the formation of the sovereign council, will be signed within a day.

"We vow to our people that the agreement will be completed fully within 24 hours in a way that it meets the people's aspirations," Atta said.

The protest movement has demanded the sovereign council be civilian-led, whereas the generals who overthrew Bashir say it should be mostly military.

After the council is formed, a new transitional civilian government will be formed to run the country and work towards elections after the end of the transition period.

Atta said that the transition parliament will be made up of 300 members, 67 percent of whom will be from the Alliance for Freedom and Change, and the rest from other political groups.

The first six months of the transition period will be dedicated to signing peace accords with rebels in Sudan's war zones like Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, according to Atta.

Negotiations interrupted by violence

The negotiations started Monday, and were marred by violence when an army major and five protesters participating in round-the clock sit-ins outside military headquarters in Khartoum were killed by unidentified gunmen in the evening. Dozens were wounded.

Sudan's opposition alliance blamed the military for the violence, as an attempt to "disturb the breakthrough" in the negotiations.

"We hold the military council responsible for what happened yesterday," Khalid Omar Youssef, a senior figure in the opposition, told a news conference. "While they claimed that a third party was the one who did so, eyewitnesses confirmed that the party was in armed forces vehicles and in armed forces uniforms, so the military council must reveal this party."

The United States backed the opposition alliance in blaming the military.

"The decision by security forces to escalate the use of force... led directly to the unacceptable violence later in the day," said the US Embassy in Khartoum.

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