WASHINGTON/KHARTOUM - After months of on-again, off-again talks, Sudan's military and opposition leaders have signed a power-sharing deal that rotates control of an executive council, but leaves other key details to be determined.
Under the deal, the 11-member Sovereign Council, the top level of government, will be made up of five civilians, five military officials, and one additional civilian to be selected by the 10 members.
Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Transitional Military Council, will head the council for 21 months. A representative of the Forces for Freedom and Change Coalition then will head the council for the next 18 months. The transitional government will last for 39 months before a regular government is formed.
The agreement stipulates that a Council of Ministers, which shall not exceed 20 people, shall be appointed by a civilian prime minister and that a legislative body will be formed within three months of the beginning of the transition.
The more contentious details over a constitutional agreement that would spell out the division of powers has yet to be worked out.
Omer Ismail, a senior adviser at the Washington, D.C.-based Enough Project, says those missing parts are important.
"It is not there; it was postponed for 90 days. Instead of talking about that, and talking about it as an important institution, they are spelling out their reservations," Ismail told VOA's South Sudan in Focus.
But Mohammed Hassan Labat, the African Union's special envoy to Sudan, believes the agreement paves the way for a constitutional deal.
"This agreement opens a new era and eases the ground for the next level, and the parties shall be able to revise and amend the constitutional declaration before the transitional period," Labat said.
An emotional Mahamood Direr, the Ethiopian envoy to Sudan who helped mediate the deal, shed tears after the signing ceremony, describing how the Sudanese people have been waiting patiently to see the fruits of their revolution.
"It is a great moment that the people of the Sudan have reached this historic moment, the gallant army of the Sudan, the Transitional Military Council and, of course, the revolutionary, youth, intellectuals, pioneers who have taken to the streets. God bless the Sudan and God bless Africa," Direr said.
Mohammed Hamdan Himetti, the deputy head of the Transitional Military Council who signed the agreement on behalf of the military junta, also praised the protesters for demanding change in Sudan.
"This agreement is a fruit of efforts of all Sudanese people who have waited for so long to witness, which shall bring them freedom, peace and justice. I salute all martyrs of the December revolution; I salute their mothers and all Sudanese women and youth," Himetti said.
Commission of inquiry
A commission of inquiry will be created to investigate the deaths of protesters, according to the agreement.
In June, Sudanese security forces killed dozens when they stormed a site outside the Defense Ministry where protesters were demanding the military hand over power to civilians. The military seized control of Sudan after ousting president Omar al-Bashir in April, following months of mass protests against his rule.
Umaima Faruq, a third-year student of engineering at Sudan University, said the power-sharing agreement means a lot to her and millions of other Sudanese.
"It is a big day for Sudanese people, especially the youth. It is my priority for me this day to be here and witness this historical day," Faruq, 26, told South Sudan in Focus.
Labat said the parties will hold more talks Friday to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers, whose duties include appointing the head of the judiciary, the chief justice, and state governors.
Source: Voice of America