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Sudan’s army and pro-democracy movement form joint ruling body

CAIRO — Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the army announced a joint ruling body on Tuesday, formally disbanding the military council that took power after the military’s ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April.

The new, 11-member body — called the Sovereign Council — is to rule Sudan for a little over three years until elections can be held. It was originally to be announced Sunday but the statement was delayed because of last-minute, internal disputes over the opposition appointees.

The military and protest leaders signed the final power-sharing deal Saturday, following pressure from the United States and its Arab allies, amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite civil war.

Protesters had continued to take to the streets after al-Bashir’s ouster, fearing the military could cling to power, and demanded a swift transition to civilian government. The tortuous negotiations over the joint military and civilian council continued despite a deadly security crackdown. At least 250 people have been killed since December, according to protest organizers.

The military overthrew al-Bashir following months of mass protests against his three-decade-long authoritarian rule. The demonstrations initially erupted in December over dire economic conditions but shortly turned to calls for al-Bashir’s ouster.

The military appointed Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, who chaired the military council, to lead the Sovereign Council for the first 21 months. A civilian leader appointed by the protest movement is to follow Burhan for the next 18 months.

Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, who served as deputy head of the military council, was appointed to the council along with Lt. Gen. Shams el-Din Kabashi, Lt. Gen. Yasser Atta and Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Gaber. All were members in the disbanded military council.

Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, has consolidated power since al-Bashir’s overthrow, and is the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Protesters accuse the RSF of leading the crackdown against them since the brutal break-up of their sit-in camp in Khartoum earlier in June.

Among the five council members named by the pro-democracy movement are a woman and a journalist.

Both sides agreed on the appointment of a Coptic Christian judge as the 11th member of the council. The council members will be sworn in before the country’s top judge and Burhan on Wednesday.

The deal also includes a protest movement-appointed Cabinet along with a legislative council with a majority from the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the main protest coalition. The legislative body is to assemble within three months.

Protest leaders have nominated a well-known economist, Abdalla Hamdok, to serve as prime minister during the transition. He has been the deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa since November 2011, but has yet to be confirmed by the Sovereign Council.

The military is to nominate the defense and interior ministers, according to the deal.