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Sudan military ruler Burhan vows to implement deal agreed with protesters

Protest campaign leaders cancel nationwide day of civil disobedience set for later this month
Grab from Sudan TV on Saturday shows General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan vowing to implement power-sharing agreement with protesters (AFP)

Sudan's army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan vowed on Saturday to implement the power-sharing deal agreed with demonstrators, as the protest campaign cancelled a nationwide day of civil disobedience set for later this month.

The ruling military council and protest leaders agreed on Friday to form a joint civilian-military governing body aimed at ending the country's months-long political crisis, AFP said.

"We, as the military council, promise to protect what has been agreed upon and ensure that it is implemented," Burhan said in a statement broadcast live on state television. "We are going to work with our partners from the Alliance for Freedom and Change and other forces in close cooperation in order to realise the aspirations of the people," he said.

Last Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people - by some estimates as many as one million - filled the streets of Sudan for the first time since a bloody crackdown on 3 June in a cry of anger against military dominance, the New York Times said. Western officials said that Sudan's generals were taken aback by the size and intensity of the crowd.

At least 11 people were killed, but the show of popular support demolished claims by the generals that the protests were waning or only appealed to a fraction of the population, the Times said.

The United States on Saturday welcomed the provisional agreement to share power as an "important step forward", Reuters reported.

"We look forward to immediate resumption of access to the internet, establishment of the new legislature, accountability for the violent suppression of peaceful protests and progress toward free and fair elections," the US State Department said. 

The deal reached on Friday followed two days of hard-won talks brokered by Ethiopian and African Union mediators after negotiations collapsed in May over who should lead the new body - a civilian or soldier.

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The agreement stipulates that the new governing body will be presided over by a military nominee for the first 21 months, and the last 18 months by a civilian.

It is expected to be ready for signing by the two sides early next week, although the draft has postponed the formation of a 300-seat transitional parliament that had been agreed upon in previous talks.

The breakthrough accord came amid a political deadlock that has gripped Sudan since the generals ousted leader Omar al-Bashir in a palace coup in April following months of mass protests nationwide.

Burhan's remarks came after the Alliance for Freedom and Change cancelled a nationwide day of civil disobedience that was set for 14 July.

The alliance released a new programme of events on social media, which makes no mention of the planned campaign.

Ahmed al-Rabie, a prominent leader from the movement, told AFP the decision was made "to give room for the agreement" to be implemented.

A mass protest scheduled for 13 July by the alliance has also been changed to a "commemoration" for protesters killed 40 days earlier in a raid by men in military fatigues on a sit-in outside army headquarters.