Sudan military, civilian bloc to sign deal aimed at ending Khartoum crisis

Sudan Peace deal

Sudan's Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (second left) and paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (third left) lift documents alongside civilian leaders following the signing of an initial deal aimed at ending a deep crisis caused by last year's military coup, in the capital Khartoum on December 5, 2022. 

Photo credit: AFP

Sudan's military and civilian leaders are expected to sign an initial deal aimed at ending a deep crisis that has gripped the northeast African country since a coup a year ago.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan seized power in October 2021, derailing a rocky transition to civilian rule that had started after the 2019 ouster of veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

The past year has seen near-weekly protests and street clashes that have claimed 120 lives, a spiraling economic crisis and a rise in ethnic violence in several remote regions.

Divisions among civilian groups have deepened since the coup, with some urging a deal with the military while others insist on "no partnership, no negotiation".

The deal expected Monday was negotiated in the presence of officials from the United Nations, African Union, the regional IGAD bloc and Western diplomats.

It is based on a proposal by the Sudanese Bar Association, said a statement by the main civilian bloc, the Forces for Freedom and Change, which was ousted in the coup.

In a first phase, "the framework agreement lays the groundwork for establishing a transitional civilian authority," said the FFC.

A final deal tackling issues including transitional justice and reforms to the military should be completed "within weeks," it said.

Monday's meeting comes months after Burhan pledged that the military would step aside and make way for factions to agree on a civilian government.

Pro-democracy activists reject the latest effort and called for new street protests demanding the military "return to the barracks".

Several former rebel leaders who signed peace deals with Sudan in 2020 also voiced their opposition to the deal.

Mohamed Zakaraia, spokesman for former rebel group the Justice and Equality movement, told AFP that it "will bring about dire consequences and further complicate the political scene".

Kholood Khair of Khartoum-based think tank the Confluence Advisory called the deal "opaque" and said it was "difficult to gauge how popular this will be with the public".