(Bloomberg) -- Sudan’s military leadership and political activists agreed a new framework for power-sharing aimed at ending the crisis caused by a 2021 coup that battered the economy and derailed a rare push for democracy in the Horn of Africa.
Representatives including army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan signed the pact at a ceremony Monday in the capital, Khartoum. Under the deal, civilians would appoint a prime minister and cabinet for a two-year transitional period, potentially curbing the military’s near-total control of resource-rich Sudan.
If successfully implemented, it could restore billions of dollars of Western financial help and speed large-scale investment from Gulf Arab nations including in ports and agriculture. But the pact faces opposition from several major activist groups that insist the military play no part in government.
Previous attempts at a joint military-civilian administration since the April 2019 overthrow of long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir have faltered, culminating in a putsch last October that spurred mass protests in which security forces are accused of killing more than 100 people.
The so-called framework agreement pushes for the integration of the Rapid Support Forces, a pro-government militia, into Sudan’s army. It also lays out the terms to bring to justice perpetrators of unspecified previous crimes.
Bashir’s ouster ended three decades of Islamic rule and saw Sudanese authorities race to reverse the country’s pariah status, re-establish links the West and rebuild an economy shattered by sanctions and corruption.
Rifts, however, soon developed between civilian politicians pushing for a full democratic transition and Sudan’s army, which controls swathes of industries and seemed reluctant to surrender the king-maker role it has held for much of the country’s six decades of independence.
The agreement followed weeks of US-brokered negotiations that saw the army and the RSF militia hold direct talks with members of the Forces for Freedom and Change, a coalition of activists and political groups.
The return of a civilian-led government may lead the US, World Bank and others to restore aid they’d suspended, as well as revive plans for Sudan to receive debt relief under an International Monetary Fund initiative.
--With assistance from Tarek El-Tablawy.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.