Sudan’s deposed prime minister signed a deal with the military on Sunday that will see him reinstated, almost a month after a military coup put him under house arrest.
According to the deal, the military will also release government officials and politicians who have been arrested since the October 25 takeover.
The country’s top general, Abdel Fattah Burhan, said in televised statements that Abdalla Hamdok would lead an independent technocratic cabinet until elections could be held.
It remained unclear how much power the government would hold. It would still remain under military oversight.
It was also unclear whether all political parties and pro-democracy groups had signed off on the agreement.
The coup, which happened more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government, has drawn international criticism.
“The signing of this deal opens the door wide enough to address all the challenges of the transitional period,” said Mr Hamdok, speaking at the signing ceremony broadcast on state television.
Sudanese people have been taking to the streets in their masses since the military takeover, which upended the country’s fragile transition to democracy.
The agreement comes days after doctors said at least 15 people were killed by live fire during anti-coup demonstrations.
Mr Hamdok has been held under house arrest by military leaders for weeks.
The deal also stipulates that an investigation should be conducted to identify those responsible for the killing and injuring of civilians and troops that marred protests following the coup.
“By signing this declaration, we could lay a genuine foundation to the transitional period,” Gen Burhan said.
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, a group that played a key role in the uprising against Mr al-Bashir, voiced their vehement opposition to the agreement, accusing Mr Hamdok of committing “political suicide”.
“This agreement only concerns its signatories and it is an unjust attempt to bestow legitimacy on the latest coup and the military council,” the group tweeted shortly after the deal was signed.
The 14-clause deal also stressed that power should be handed over to an elected civilian government at the end of the transitional period.
Earlier, the Forces For The Declaration Of Freedom And Change, the group that spearheaded the uprising that culminated in Mr al-Bashir’s removal, objected to any deals with the military.
In a statement on Sunday, the group reiterated its opposition to any new political partnership with the military, insisting that the perpetrators of the coup should be brought to justice.
“We are not concerned with any agreements with this brute junta and we are employing all peaceful and creative methods to bring it down,” the statement said.
The largest of the political parties said to be included in the deal, the Umma Party, had also issued a statement suggesting it had not signed off on the agreement.
Cameron Hudson, a former US state department official and Sudan expert at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Centre, said the deal allowed the generals to largely retain their control and avoid accountability for the coup and the deaths of dozens of protesters.
“This is a deal among elites that largely seems to prioritise their preservation over the demands of the street,” he said.
Thousands had taken to the streets in the capital of Khartoum on Sunday, shortly before the signing ceremony, to denounce the coup and demand the immediate transfer of power to civilians.
Protesters waved the Sudanese flag and chanted “Power is to the people! The military are to stay in the barracks”.
Speaking earlier, military and government officials had said that the UN, the US and others had played “crucial roles” in crafting the agreement.
The US, its allies and the UN have condemned the use of excessive force against anti-coup protesters.
Mr Hamdok thanked Sudan’s “regional and global friends” who had helped in reaching the agreement but did not name the countries.
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