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Sudan Military, Opposition Leaders Set to Sign Deal

A political transition agreement between Sudan’s military and a pro-democracy coalition is expected to be signed Saturday, a top African Union diplomat said early Friday.

Mohammed el-Hassan Labat’s announcement came just hours after the Sudanese military claimed it thwarted an attempted military coup.

The transition agreement sets up a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organized.

The deal is meant to break the political deadlock that has gripped the country following the overthrow of autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April.

Ethiopian mediator Mahmoud Dirir told reporters that the political declaration will be “debated on, discussed and signed at the same time.”

Lt. Gen. Gamal Omar, a member of Sudan’s military council, said the coup attempt took place late Thursday, just days after the military and the pro-democracy coalition had agreed to the joint sovereign council.

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In a statement, Omar said at least 16 active and retired military officers were arrested. Security forces were pursuing the group’s leader and additional officers who took part in plotting the coup attempt, he said.

“The attempted coup came in a critical time, ahead of the deal with the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change,” Omar said, referring to the group that speaks for the pro-democracy demonstrators.

The council did not reveal the name of the attempted leader, his rank or other details. The statement also said five of the arrested officers were retired.

The political transition deal is meant to end the impasse between the military council and the protest movement since security forces razed a massive pro-democracy sit-in in Khartoum early last month, killing more than 100 people, according to protest organizers.

In the ensuing weeks, protesters stayed in the streets, demanding that the generals hand power to civilian leadership.

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