Sudan's military council, opposition coalition sign political accord

US Special Envoy to Sudan Donald Booth holds talks in Khartoum with TMC Chairman Abdelfattah El Burhan yesterday

Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council, hailed the signing as a "historic moment in Sudan" as representatives of both sides shook hands.

That body is to oversee the formation of a transitional civilian administration that will govern for just over three years, after which elections would be held.

The military and protesters had found themselves in a deadlock, since security forces broke up a sit-in protest in Khartoum last month.

According to the opposition, more than 100 people were killed, while government officials have put the death toll at 61 nationwide.

Differences over the issue of immunity have been a major sticking point holding up the signing of a power-sharing deal agreed this month between the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition.

These talks are expected to address whether to grant "absolute immunity" to generals for violence against protesters.

The constitutional declaration will now decide the duties and responsibilities of the sovereign council.

The Communist Party said it and some other factions rejected the deal signed Wednesday because it didn't include the immediate handover of power to civilians and did not provide for an worldwide investigation of the violence. The New York Times reported on the signing, "Protest leaders are uncomfortable with the prominence of General Hamdan and his Rapid Support Forces, which have emerged as the dominant group in a byzantine security apparatus that under included military units, security agencies and semiofficial militias".

The African Union mediator on Sudan's crisis, Mohamed al-Hassan Libad, believes the accord can lead toward peace and stability.

The SPA is the key protest group in the wider movement known as the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

"We have suffered enough from totalitarian dictatorial regimes that have enslaved the people and devoured our riches".

It stipulates the two sides' agreement on sanctity of the principle of national sovereignty, unity of the Sudanese soil and national unity for Sudan with all its diversities.

Envoys from Ethiopia and the African Union, who had spearheaded mediation efforts, also praised the agreement at Wednesday's ceremony.

The crisis has exacerbated a deteriorating economic situation, a outcome of 30 years of incompetent, corrupt and repressive rule by Bashir.

He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s, but Sudan's military has said it will not extradite him to the Hague.

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