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Sudan opposition and military council reach power-sharing deal

Both sides agree to sovereign council rotated between civilian and military control for three-year period, African Union mediator says
The two sides have held talks in Khartoum for the past two days (AFP)

Sudan's ruling military council and a coalition of opposition and protest groups have reached an agreement to share power during a transition period leading to elections, an African Union diplomat has said.

The two sides, who have held talks in the capital Khartoum for the past two days, agreed to "establish a sovereign council by rotation between the military and civilians for a period of three years or slightly more," African Union mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt said at a news conference late on Thursday.

It remains unclear how many civilian and military members will be on the council.

They also agreed to form an independent technocratic government and to launch a transparent, independent investigation into the violent events of recent weeks.

The two sides agreed to postpone the establishment of a legislative council. They had previously agreed that the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition would take two-thirds of a legislative council's seats, before security forces cracked down on a sit-in protest on 3 June, killing scores of people, and talks collapsed.

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Both sides also "agreed to have a detailed, transparent, national, independent investigation into all the regrettable violent incidents that the country faced in recent weeks," including the June 3 raid, Lebatt said.

"This agreement opens the way for the formation of the institutions of the transitional authority, and we hope that this is the beginning of a new era," said Omar al-Degair, a leader of the FFC.

"This agreement is comprehensive and does not exclude anyone," said General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the Transitional Military Council.

"We thank the African and Ethiopian mediators for their efforts and patience. We also thank our brothers in the Forces for Freedom and Change for the good spirit," said Dagalo, who heads the Rapid Support Forces that are accused by the FFC of crushing the sit-in.

Civilian rule

Opposition medics say more than 100 people were killed in last month's dispersal and subsequent violence. The government put the death toll at 62.

Longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April after months of demonstrations, but the military council that replaced him was also rejected by protesters, who have demanded civilian rule. 

The military council last week indicated that it could return to talks with the opposition after tentatively approving a consolidated AU-Ethiopian proposal, having previously rejected an Ethiopian initiative. 

"A number of points have emerged around it, but in general it is a suitable proposal for negotiations to reach a final agreement leading to the establishment of the institutions of a transitional rule," military council spokesman Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi said.

The Ethiopian proposal had already been approved by the opposition FFC coalition.