Sudan's military council to be dissolved in transition deal

FILE - In this Saturday, June 29, 2019, file photo, Sudanese Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the military council, waves to his supporters upon his arrival to attend a military-backed rally in Omdurman district, west of Khartoum, Sudan. The power-sharing agreement reached between Sudan’s military and pro-democracy protesters last week came after the United States and its Arab allies applied intense pressure on both sides amid fears a prolonged crisis could tip the country into civil war, activists and officials said. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan's top general says the military council that assumed power after the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April will be dissolved with the implementation of a power-sharing deal reached with protesters last week.

The military and a pro-democracy coalition agreed last week on a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organized. Both sides say a diplomatic push by the U.S. and its Arab allies was key to ending a weekslong standoff that raised fears of all-out civil war.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the military council, said in televised comments late Sunday that the army would return to its barracks after 21 months, when leadership of the council passes from a military representative to a civilian.

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 sides. The protesters will select a Cabinet of technocrats, and a legislative council is to be formed after three months.

Burhan said the sovereign council would have a veto on Cabinet appointees and the body's decisions. He said the transitional period would be dedicated to advancing peace efforts with rebel groups and overhauling the economy.

Burhan also insisted that the military council did not order the violent dispersal of the main protest camp last month, which killed scores of people and led to the collapse of talks.

"We trust that military council members had nothing to do with what happened in the sit-in dispersal," he said.

As part of the power-sharing agreement, the two sides agreed on an independent Sudanese investigation into the deadly crackdown, but the details have yet to be worked out.

Sudanese security forces razed the sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum on June 3. The deadly clampdown killed at least 128 people, according to protest organizers. Authorities put the death toll at 61, including three security forces.

On June 30, the protesters returned to the streets by the tens of thousands to again demand a transition to civilian rule. The rallies were the largest since the uprising began in December.