Cairo, Aug 3(AP/UNB) — The African Union envoy to Sudan said Saturday the pro-democracy movement and the ruling military council have finalized a power-sharing agreement.
Mohammed el-Hassan Lebatt told reporters that the two sides "fully agreed" on a constitutional declaration outlining the division of power for a three-year transition to elections. He did not provide further details, but said both sides would meet later on Saturday to prepare for a signing ceremony.
The pro-democracy coalition issued a statement saying they would sign the document Sunday.
The military overthrew President Omar al-Bashir in April following months of mass protests against his three-decade-long authoritarian rule. The protesters remained in the streets, demanding a rapid transition to a civilian government. They have been locked in tense negotiations with the military for weeks while holding mass protests.
The two sides reached a preliminary agreement last month following pressure from the United States and its Arab allies , amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite civil war.
That document provided for the establishment of a joint civilian-military sovereign council that would rule Sudan for a little over three years while elections are organized. A military leader would head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18. There would also be a Cabinet of technocrats chosen by the protesters, as well as a legislative council, the makeup of which would be decided within three months.
The Sudanese Communist party, a key part of the pro-democracy movement since last year, rejected the newly agreed-upon deal for allowing the military to be part of the sovereign council. The party called for continued mass protests until the military agreed to fully hand power to a civilian government. The Communist Party also said it had withdrawn its representatives from negotiations with the military council, accusing the protest coalition of sidelining the party.
Ebtisam Senhouri, a negotiator for the protest coalition, told a press conference that the pro-democracy movement would choose 67% of the legislative body, with the remainder chosen by political parties that were not part of al-Bashir's government. The military would select the defense and interior ministers during the transition.
The two sides had been divided over whether military leaders would be immune from prosecution over recent violence against protesters. It was not immediately clear whether they had resolved that dispute.
The two sides came under renewed pressure this week after security forces opened fire on student protesters in the city of Obeid, leaving six people dead. At least nine troops from the paramilitary Rapid Support forces were arrested over the killings.
In June, security forces violently dispersed the protesters' main sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, killing dozens of people and plunging the fragile transition into crisis.
Protest leader Omar al-Dagir said the agreement announced Saturday would pave the way for appointments to the transitional bodies.
"The government will prioritize peace (with rebel groups) and an independent and fair investigation to reveal those who killed the martyrs and hold them accountable," he said.
Sudan has been convulsed by rebellions in its far-flung provinces for decades. Al-Bashir, who was jailed after being removed from power, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide stemming from the Darfur conflict in the early 2000s. The military has said he will not be extradited. Sudanese prosecutors have charged him with involvement in violence against protesters.
Cairo, Aug 3 (AP/UNB) — Sudan's pro-democracy movement and the ruling generals are meeting for a second day to finalize a power-sharing deal.
Friday's discussions centered on a so-called constitutional declaration, which defines how much power each side would have in the three-year transitional period until elections.
A preliminary deal was signed last month, but the killing of several student protesters by security forces earlier this week delayed the final negotiations.
On Thursday, at least four demonstrators were then shot dead by live ammunition amid mass marches across the country denouncing state violence against protesters.
Sudan's pro-democracy movement is represented by the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change. It's led negotiations with the military since Sudan's generals bowed to months of protests and overthrew President Omar al-Bashir in April.
Johannesburg, Aug 1 (AP/UNB) — The office of Somalia's president says he is giving up his United States citizenship but it is not immediately clear why.
A statement posted on Twitter on Thursday says President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed made the decision voluntarily, with lawyers involved. It says Somalia's constitution allows for dual citizenship. Many in Somalia's diaspora have it after fleeing the country long gripped by conflict.
Mohamed lived for many years in the United States, working as a New York state transportation department official in Buffalo before being elected Somalia's president in February 2017.
During his time in office the U.S. has dramatically increased airstrikes against the Somali-based al-Shabab extremist group, re-established its diplomatic presence in Somalia and even presented Mohamed with a trucker cap that said "Make Somalia Great Again."
Gorongosa National Park, Aug 1 (AP/UNB) — Mozambique's president and the leader of the Renamo opposition signed a peace accord on Thursday to end years of hostilities that followed a 15-year civil war.
The former rebel group's remaining fighters are disarming just weeks before a visit by Pope Francis and a national election that will test the now-political rivals' new resolve.
The permanent cease-fire is the culmination of years of negotiations to end fighting that has flared several times in the more than 25 years since the end of the civil war in which an estimated 1 million people died.
Pope Francis has said he is coming to promote reconciliation in the southern African country of some 30 million people. The Catholic church's Sant'Egidio community helped to negotiate the war's end in 1992 and the church has encouraged peace since then.
President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade signed, shook hands and embraced at Gorongosa National Park, near the Renamo headquarters where the group has maintained an armed base for more than 40 years. Of the more than 5,200 fighters who are disarming, some 800 are coming down from their camp on Mount Gorongosa and register for employment at the wildlife park.
The accord will be followed by another agreement to be signed in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, on Aug. 6 pledging peace in the Oct. 15 national elections. Previous elections have been marked by violence and Renamo allegations that the ruling Frelimo party rigged the results.
Renamo, which is the Portuguese acronym for National Resistance of Mozambique, became an opposition party after the civil war but had never fully disarmed until now.
"This agreement has historic significance because up 'til now Mozambique has had an opposition party in parliament that also has armed fighters in the countryside. Now there can be peace," said Neha Sanghrajka, a negotiator of the deal. Unlike in previous peace efforts the important issues have been implemented before the signing, she said.
The issues include an amnesty for rebel fighters that Nyusi signed earlier this week and a constitutional amendment that stipulates provincial governors will be elected rather than appointed by the central government.
There is "tremendous symbolic value" in having the signing at Gorongosa, said fellow negotiator Swiss Ambassador Mirko Manzoni, who is also an envoy of the United Nations secretary-general.
"Gorongosa was where the war started and now it is where it ends," Manzoni said, pointing out that the mountain is in a strategic location in the center of Mozambique. "This agreement gives people hope that there will be lasting peace."
Renamo's longtime leader Afonso Dhlakama died in Gorongosa in 2018. Momade succeeded him and is responsible for concluding the peace agreements.
"We will no longer commit the mistakes of the past," Momade said this week as Renamo fighters turned in their arms. "We are for a humanized and dignified reintegration and we want the international community to help make that a reality."
Momade also said he hoped Gorongosa Park would help Renamo's ex-combatants and their families re-enter society.
In recognition of its pivotal role, Mozambique's president declared Gorogosa to be a peace park.
After falling into neglect during the civil war, the park that sprawls over 4,067 square kilometers (1,570 square miles) has been re-invigorated with help from American philanthropist Greg Carr. He has said he was inspired after former South African president Nelson Mandela told him that wildlife parks should be places of national reconciliation and development.
The park also has helped surrounding communities recover after Cyclone Idai devastated large parts of central Mozambique in March and killed more than 600 people. More than 80,000 people are receiving food aid and help in planting crops, while aid groups warn that many others in the region face a hunger crisis in the months ahead.
"I'm excited at what the park can do in the next five years and beyond to help keep the peace," Carr said. "We need the park to deliver opportunities and benefits to the demobilized fighters to sustain the peace. Now it's go, go, go for us to build on the achievement of this peace agreement."
Kinshasa, Aug 1 (AP/UNB) — Rwanda closed its border with Congo over the deadly Ebola outbreak on Thursday, while a Congolese official said a person who had contact with the second confirmed Ebola case in the border city of Goma was receiving treatment after showing signs of the disease.
The Ebola coordinator for North Kivu province, Dr. Aruna Abedi, told The Associated Press that the person in treatment is a suspected case. It was not immediately clear whether the person is a family member of the man who died on Wednesday. He had spent several days at home with his family while showing symptoms.
If this suspected case is confirmed, it could be the first transmission of Ebola in this outbreak inside Goma, a city of more than 2 million people on the Rwandan border.
The developments came as the outbreak that has killed more than 1,800 people entered its second year. It is now the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history and last month the World Health Organization declared it a rare global emergency.
WHO has recommended against travel restrictions amid the outbreak but says the risk of regional spread is "very high."
Rwanda's state minister for foreign affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe confirmed the border closure to The Associated Press on Thursday, a day after WHO officials had praised African nations for keeping their borders open. Last week Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas to people from Congo while citing the Ebola outbreak, shortly before the annual hajj pilgrimage there this month.