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Sudan's military council, opposition sign power-sharing agreement

By MOHAMMED ALAMIN | Bloomberg | Published: July 17, 2019

Sudan's military council signed a power-sharing deal with the country's firebrand opposition that seeks to stem months of uncertainty and sporadic bloodshed after the overthrow of long-time President Omar al-Bashir.

Under the accord, civilian and military representatives will form an 11-seat sovereign council with executive responsibilities, and elections will take place after three years. Images aired on pan-Arab satellite channels Wednesday showed the council's deputy head, Mohamed Hamdan, and the opposition's Ahmed Rabiaa signing the agreement in the capital, Khartoum.

Sudan's army has controlled Africa's third-largest country since mass demonstrations sparked by an economic crisis spurred it to oust Bashir in April. The opposition has kept up its protests despite a clampdown, accusing the council — peopled by the old guard from Bashir's three-decade rule — of trying to prevent a genuine transition to democracy.

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Sudan's upheaval has drawn in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who have pledged economic aid and seek to retain influence in the Red Sea nation as their tussles with Iran and Turkey for regional supremacy spread to the Horn of Africa. Prior interventions by the Gulf states in the uprisings that have rocked the Arab world since 2011 have acted to bolster national armies or maintain the status quo.

The new pact, which analysts say still leaves many questions on the transition unanswered, was the fruit of sustained international pressure on Sudan's military rulers in the wake of a June crackdown by security forces on a Khartoum protest site. More than 100 people were killed, with some of the bodies dumped in the Nile River.

A second signing of a so-called constitutional declaration is scheduled to take place Friday.

"This deal prevents the worst, but will not be sufficient on its own to bring Sudan back from the brink," Alan Boswell, an analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said before the signing. "The coordinated pressure across continents required to produce this deal will now be required to keep it on track."

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