FRI 13 - 12 - 2019
 
Date: Jul 19, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Sudan police fire tear gas as rallies held for 'martyrs'
Sudanese military, protesters sign deal
Agence France Presse
KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas Thursday as hundreds of demonstrators marched on a prominent Khartoum square to honor comrades killed in the months-long protest movement that has rocked the country.

The rallies came a day after protest leaders and army rulers inked a power-sharing deal to form a joint civilian-military body tasked with installing a civilian administration - the main demand of demonstrators.

Witnesses said men and women waving Sudanese flags marched from several parts of the capital towards the Green Yard, a prominent square.

As they marched, the demonstrators shouted slogans that have been the rallying cries of the uprising that led to the toppling in April of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir: "Civilian rule, civilian rule!" and "Freedom, peace, justice!"

The marches were held in response to calls from a key protest group.

"The rallies are a tribute to those honorable martyrs of the December revolution," the Sudanese Professionals Association said in a statement.

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse a rally at a key bus station in downtown Khartoum, witnesses said.

"Protesters who were dispersed are trying to mobilize again and continue with the rally. It's like a game of cat and mouse between them," a witness told AFP from the capital's Jackson bus station.

One onlooker said that many who arrived at the Green Square were in tears as they chanted slogans remembering those killed in the protests.

The SPA spearheaded the initial campaign which erupted in December against the government of Bashir over its decision to triple the price of bread.

Those protests swiftly escalated into a nationwide movement that led to the army's overthrow of Bashir in April.

But protesters continued taking to the streets against the military council that took power in his place.

More than 200 people been killed since December in protest-related violence, according to doctors close to the movement.

Tensions between the generals and protesters surged after a June 3 raid against a weeks-long Khartoum sit-in that left dozens of demonstrators dead.

On Wednesday the protesters and generals finally agreed a deal paving the way to a transitional civilian administration that would govern for just over three years.

The talks, however, are set to continue Friday as the two sides push to resolve remaining issues.

A western troika of the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway, which have been involved in mediating the talks, welcomed the initialling of the deal and called for the formation of a civilian-led administration.

"We encourage the parties to quickly conclude the parallel constitutional agreement and form the civilian-led transitional government, which the Sudanese people have courageously and peacefully demanded since December 2018," they said in a joint statement.

"The troika looks forward to engaging a civilian-led transitional government as it works to achieve the Sudanese people's aspirations for responsive governance, peace, justice and development."

Sudanese military, protesters sign deal
July 18, 2019
Associated Press

CAIRO: Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the ruling military council signed a document Wednesday that outlines a power-sharing deal, but the two sides are still at work on a more contentious constitutional agreement that would specify the division of powers.

The signing ceremony held in the capital, Khartoum, after marathon overnight talks, marks an important step in the transition to civilian rule following the military overthrow of long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir amid mass protests in April.

But the military appears to have the upper hand, following weeks of negotiations and a deadly crackdown last month in which security forces violently dispersed the protesters’ main sit-in.

The document would establish a joint civilian-military sovereign council that would rule Sudan for a little over three years while elections are organized. A military leader will head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18.

It marks a significant concession by the protesters, who had demanded an immediate transition to civilian rule. The pro-democracy movement would appoint a Cabinet, and the two sides would agree on a legislative body within three months of the start of the transition.

But negotiators have yet to agree on a division of powers between the sovereign council, the Cabinet and the legislative body, which would be enshrined in the constitutional document. That document, which they hope to adopt in talks scheduled for Friday, would also set the terms of military leaders’ potential immunity from prosecution.

“This is the big hurdle. Sudan’s future after Bashir will be defined by this constitutional declaration,” said Rasha Awad, editor of the online Sudanese newspaper Altaghyeer.

The military has said the sovereign council should be able to veto appointments to the Cabinet and Cabinet decisions, something the protesters fear would deprive it of any real power. The protesters have also said that members of the council should be stripped of immunity if they are implicated in last month’s crackdown.

The Communist Party said it and some other factions rejected the deal signed Wednesday because it did not include the immediate handover of power to civilians and did not provide for an international investigation of the violence.

Protest organizers say security forces killed at least 128 people during last month’s crackdown. Authorities put the death toll at 61, including three members of the security forces. The two sides have agreed on a Sudanese investigation into the violence, but have yet to outline its scope.

The agreement signed Wednesday at a ceremony broadcast by state TV stems from a meeting last month brokered by the U.S. and Britain, which support the protesters, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which back the military. The diplomatic push ended weeks of stalemate that had raised fears of further violence or even civil war.

“We are ushering in a new era,” said Ibrahim al-Amin, a negotiator for the Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and change, a broad-based coalition including independent professional unions, traditional political parties and other groups.

“The upcoming government will be a government of all Sudanese, for all citizens ... we have suffered enough from the totalitarian dictatorial regime.”

The military was represented by Gen. Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who has consolidated power since Bashir’s overthrow and whose paramilitary Rapid Support Forces are accused of leading last month’s crackdown. He hailed the agreement as a “historic moment in Sudan.”

Envoys from Ethiopia and the African Union, who had spearheaded mediation efforts, also praised the agreement at Wednesday’s ceremony. The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum welcomed the deal and encouraged both sides to “continue the same spirit of cooperation to conclude a constitutional decree.”


 
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