(Bloomberg) -- Sudan’s army and civilian politicians are discussing a potential power-sharing plan that would curb the military’s dominance of the economy and give regional lawmakers the right to veto mooted projects such as a Russian naval base.

A draft of the agreement, seen by Bloomberg, seeks to end the crisis sparked by an October 2021 coup. It would prohibit the military from making investments beyond the defense industry — potentially challenging the near-stranglehold that critics allege Sudan’s generals and associates have over key sectors of the economy, from banking to livestock and gold.

Part of a broader plan to bring the army and security forces under civilian control, it’s also fraught with risk. A drive for oversight of the military’s business interests may have played a role in sparking the putsch that derailed Sudan’s democratic transition after the 2019 overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir. The suggested merging of a powerful militia with the army is also a potential flashpoint.

The proposals may not be accepted in their current form, with the military and civilians meeting this week to try and seal a deal by early April. Spokespeople for Sudan’s army and the Forces for Freedom and Change, an opposition coalition, didn’t respond to questions. A representative for the United Nations, which is pushing for an agreement, declined to comment on a draft.

A successfully implemented power-sharing deal for Sudan may restore billions of dollars of Western aid frozen because of the coup, helping the beleaguered economy. It may also accelerate large-scale investment by Gulf Arab nations, including in ports and agriculture. 

Giving marginalized communities in eastern Sudan more say in the local economy is also on the table. Protesters periodically blockade Port Sudan, the country’s major trade conduit, to press their demands. The unrest comes amid a surge in international interest in the Red Sea coastline, ranging from Gulf and Chinese companies to the Russian state, which covets a naval facility.

Issues tied to national sovereignty “such as ports, establishing military bases on the coasts of the Red Sea, and other major development projects in the region require research and approval by the state and national legislative bodies before proceeding,” according to one article.

The draft also suggests:

  • Folding the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group into the national army, with integration and reform of security forces over a period of as long as 10 years
  • Women will make up at least 40% of representatives at all levels of government.
  • A new legislative assembly will be established; 75% of members would belong to civilian political parties, with the rest elected members of former rebel groups.
  • Elections would take place within 24 months of the new deal being signed.
  • People indicted by the International Criminal Court would be handed over, a decision that would affect ex-president Bashir

--With assistance from Kateryna Kadabashy.

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