KHARTOUM--Sudan's ruling military council and a coalition of opposition and protest groups agreed provisionally on Friday to share power for three years, bringing thousands onto the streets to hail a first step towards ending decades of dictatorship.


  The deal, concluded in the small hours and due to be finalised on Monday, revived hopes for a peaceful transition of power in a country plagued by internal conflicts and years of economic crisis that helped to trigger the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in April.
  Relations between the military council that took over from Bashir and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) alliance broke down when security forces killed dozens as they cleared a sit-in on June 3. But after huge protests against the military on Sunday, African mediators brokered a return to direct talks.
  After two meetings, the sides agreed early on Friday to "establish a sovereign council by rotation between the military and civilians for a period of three years or slightly more" African Union mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt told a news conference. The council will be led for the first 21 months by the military, and for the final 18 months by civilians, according to a statement from the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded months of protests against Bashir.
  The sovereign council will be Sudan's highest authority. It will comprise five military members and five civilian appointees, with an additional civilian member agreed by the two sides, and the deal will be finalised by Monday, the SPA said.
  The deal includes the formation of a technocratic government beneath the council, and an independent investigation into recent violence - though it was unclear how this could be guaranteed, given the military's leading role in the first phase of the transition. Protesters have blamed the violence on the military council and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), whose leader, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, is the council's most prominent member.
  The deal also postpones the establishment of a legislative council - on which the FFC was due to take two-thirds of the seats before security forces crushed the sit-in outside Khartoum's Defence Ministry on June 3. "This agreement is only the first step," Khaled Omar, a senior FFC member, told reporters later on Friday.
  Sudanese analyst Khalid al-Tijani said both sides had made concessions. "The biggest challenge is to provide trust between the parties to implement the agreement," he said.
  He also said high expectations would put the government under heavy pressure to address the economic crisis swiftly.