Sudan's pro-democracy movement and ruling military council signed a final power-sharing agreement Saturday at a ceremony in the capital, Khartoum, after weeks of tortuous negotiations.
The historic deal paves the way for a transition to a civilian-led government after the military overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir months ago and the more recent deadly suppression of protests.
Earlier this month, the two sides initialed a constitutional document in the wake of international pressure and amid growing concerns that the political crisis that followed al-Bashir's ouster could ignite civil war.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the military council, called the signing a "victorious and historic day for our nation."
"The revolution has achieved its goals," he said, vowing the military would guarantee the transition to civilian rule.
Protest leader Mohammed Naji al-Asam said the two sides have ushered in a "new page" in Sudan's history after three decades of "repression and corruption."
The power-sharing deal creates a joint military and civilian sovereign council to rule for a little over three years until elections can be held. A military leader is to head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18. Lt. Gen. Shams el-Din Kabashi, spokesman for the military council, said Burhan would be the initial leader.
The agreement also establishes a Cabinet appointed by the activists, as well as a legislative body to be assembled within three months. The protest coalition is to have a majority in that body, as nominated by the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition of opposition parties and movements representing the protesters.
The two sides appeared to agree on the soundness of a deal that came about in part because of international pressure. Ethiopia and the African Union co-led mediation efforts between the military and protesters.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres congratulated the Sudanese people and looked forward to "engaging with and supporting the transitional governing institutions."
The power-sharing deal has been criticized by the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of the largest rebel groups in Darfur. The rebels have stressed to protest leaders that the agreement did not include "basic principles" to achieve peace in Sudan. The deal calls for the government to reach a peace agreement with the rebels within six months.
The rebel alliance, which is part of the FDFC opposition coalition, wanted to include a peace document agreed on by the protest movement in the power-sharing deal. The rebel leaders have engaged in talks with other protest leaders to settle the disputed points.