Sudan's Military, Opposition Agree Constitutional Declaration

FCC leader Ahmed Rabee and Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ hold copies of the Constitutional Declaration during the signing ceremony in Khartoum.

The African Union said the ruling generals and opposition leaders have reached "full agreement" on a constitutional declaration. Negotiations between the two sides have been going on for months amid bouts of violence.

Sudan's ruling military council and main opposition alliance have agreed on a constitutional declaration to pave the way for a transitional government, the African Union said early Saturday.

The agreement came after months of negotiations between the military council and the Alliance for Freedom and Change, which has led a countrywide protest movement.

"I am announcing to the Sudanese, African and international public opinion that the two delegations have fully agreed on the constitutional declaration," Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt, the African Union mediator, told reporters.

Lebatt said talks would resume on Saturday about a formal signing ceremony.

The announcement prompted celebrations on the streets of Sudan's capital Khartoum. Demonstrators waved the national flag, chanting "Civilian! Civilian!" while drivers honked their horns.

Areas of contention

The final agreement is meant to usher in a joint military-civilian body to rule the country for three years following the ouster of longtime strongman President Omar al-Bashir in April.

The generals and opposition had previously agreed to form a sovereign council composed of 11 members, five from the military and five from the opposition, plus one additional civilian agreed to by both sides.

The constitutional declaration empowers the AFC to name the prime minister, giving the coalition two-thirds of the seats in Sudan's Legislative Council, Ibtisam Senhoury, a member of the technical committee that drew up the declaration, said on Saturday.

The remaining third will be taken up by lawmakers nominated by the sovereign council and other political stakeholders, Senhoury said in a press briefing.

As part of the agreement, the military will select the interior and defense ministers, while the head of the judiciary will be selected by the prime minister and the sovereign council, Senhoury said. These positions will be filled as negotiations between the military and civilian leaders continue.

But areas of contention between the civilian and military sides remain, particularly with regard to control over the General Intelligence Service and the Rapid Support Forces, the country's most powerful paramilitary group.

The opposition has accused the two security forces of killing protesters, and has demanded that those responsible be held to account.

(AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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