Sudanese shout slogans during a demonstration against the military council, in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday, June 30, 2019. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Sudan's capital and elsewhere in the country calling for civilian…
Sudanese shout slogans in a demonstration against the military council, in Khartoum, Sudan, June 30, 2019. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Sudan's capital and elsewhere calling for civilian rule.

KHARTOUM - Sudan’s ruling military council and a coalition of opposition and protest groups reached an agreement to share power during a transition period leading to elections, setting off street celebrations by thousands of people.

The two sides, which have held talks in Khartoum for the past two days, agreed to “establish a sovereign council by rotation between the military and civilians for a period of three years or slightly more,” African Union mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt said at a news conference.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has spearheaded protests calling for civilian rule, released a statement Friday saying both parties had agreed to form a joint sovereign council to lead the country’s transition.

It said the council will include five civilians representing the protest movement and five military members. An 11th seat will go to a civilian chosen by both parties.

Sudanese people gather outside al-Huda prison in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman, July 4, 2019, during a ceremony marking the release of 235 members of a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army, which has fought government forces in Darfur.

Of the agreement, the statement said: “Today, our revolution has won and our victory shines.”

They also agreed to form an independent technocratic government and to launch a transparent, independent investigation into violent events in recent weeks.

The two sides agreed to postpone the establishment of a legislative council. They had previously agreed that the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition would take two-thirds of a legislative council’s seats before security forces crushed a sit-in protest June 3, killing dozens, and talks collapsed.

Joy in the streets

The streets of Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city across the Nile River, erupted in celebration when the news broke, a Reuters witness said. Thousands of people of all ages took to the streets, chanting “Civilian! Civilian! Civilian!”

Young men banged drums, people honked their car horns, and women carrying Sudanese flags ululated in jubilation.

“This agreement opens the way for the formation of the institutions of the transitional authority, and we hope that this is the beginning of a new era,” said Omar al-Degair, a leader of the FFC.

Sudanese Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the military council, speaks during a rally to support the new military council that assumed power in Sudan after the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir, in Khartoum, Sudan, June 16, 2019.

“We would like to reassure all political forces, armed movements and all those who participated in the change from young men and women — that this agreement will be comprehensive and will not exclude anyone,” said General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the Transitional Military Council.

“We thank the African and Ethiopian mediators for their efforts and patience. We also thank our brothers in the Forces for Freedom and Change for the good spirit,” said Dagalo, who heads the Rapid Support Forces accused by the FFC of crushing the sit-in.

More than 250 people have been killed since an uprising erupted against al-Bashir in December, according to protest organizers. The military overthrew the longtime ruler in April, but protesters remained in the streets, fearing the generals intended to cling to power or preserve some form of authoritarian rule.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.