Civil society and the Transitional Military Council came to an agreement on Friday. The deal is an important step towards peaceful reform, but leaves many unsatisfied.
By Perri Huggins
Rabat – Friday marked a long-sought milestone for Sudan’s tenacious masses. Ethiopian and African Union (AU) mediators helped opposition groups and the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) reach an agreement after months of unrest.
The TMC facilitated a military takeover in April of this year, ousting former president Omar al-Bashir. Since the coup, a powerful movement continues to protest. Civil society calls for civilian-led government rather than military rule.
Per Friday’s agreement, a council run by five military members and six civilian representatives will rule the country on a rotating basis. The council will rotate “for a period of three years or slightly more,” said Mohamed Hassan Lebatt, an AU mediator.
The council is expected to install a temporary parliament and a new government during the three-year transitional period.
This could be a major step forward for a country which started protesting the authoritarian leader’s rule as food prices soared back in December.
Following a long struggle, not all believe the agreement’s implementation will succeed.
“We would like to see many more guarantees from the TMC because they’ve made many promises on handing over power only to backtrack later on,” 34-year-old engineer Mohamed Ismail told Al Jazeera.
The agreement also mandates an independent investigation into a violent military crackdown in Khartoum, since dubbed “the Ramadan Massacre.” Attacks on June 3 left hundreds dead, bodies thrown into the Nile, men, women, and children raped en masse, and set a precedent for unchecked violence against civilians.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which back the TMC, tweeted a response to the agreement on Friday: “We hope that the next phase will witness the foundation of a constitutional system that will strengthen the role of institutions with broad national and popular support,” posted UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash.
He added that Abu Dhabi will stand with Sudan “in good times and bad times.”
In a sad twist of irony, the Sudanese people could not access this online message. The Sudanese suffered a month-long internet blackout. As of Tuesday, internet access is slowly being restored.
“Keep in mind that many of those out on the streets are only aware of what was announced in the presser (thanks to internet blackout) and not the composition of the presidential council or that TMC will choose their “President” first,” tweeted Sudan-based journalist Yousra Elbagi on Friday.
Both parties are expected to officially sign the agreement within the next few days.