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Is it time for the AU to lift Sudan's suspension?

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On August 4, Sudan's ruling generals and protest leaders initialled a constitutional declaration that paves the way for a transition to civilian rule. The ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC), which seized power following the toppling of longtime President Omar al-Bashir in April, and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition are expected to formally sign the declaration in front of foreign dignitaries on August 17 in Khartoum.

The transitional period, which will begin on that day and which is expected to last 39 months, will see the dissolution of the TMC, the establishment of a 11-member sovereign council in its place (which will have five military members selected by the TMC and five civilian members selected by the FFC, as well as an 11th civilian member chosen by consensus between the two parties) and the subsequent appointment of a prime minister and a cabinet. The constitutional declaration also stipulates the formation of an independent transitional legislative council.

Under agreed timelines, the cabinet and sovereign council should be up and running by the beginning of September, and the legislative council should follow suit before the end of November.

The declaration, which incorporates significant institutional reforms that aim to fundamentally alter the military-civilian balance of power in the country, was hailed by most international observers as the Sudanese people's long-awaited victory over its military rulers - an achievement that could potentially kickstart Sudan's return to normalcy following months of protests and violence.

Amid these events, the question arises of whether the African Union (AU), which suspended Sudan's membership in early June, days after the military launched a brutal crackdown on protests, should reinstate it.

By lifting Sudan's suspension and welcoming the country back into the African political scene, the regional body could inject confidence to the transitional government and speed up the normalisation process in the country. But is it time for the AU to lift the suspension? Are we really witnessing the beginning of a civilian-controlled transition in Sudan?

Sudan's long-awaited and hard-won constitutional declaration includes several pleasant surprises for the supporters of the country's pro-democracy movement, with the emergence of a powerful cabinet being the most significant one. According to the declaration, an FFC-selected prime minister will name a cabinet of 20 ministers from a list of nominees selected once again by the FFC, excluding the interior and defence ministers. The latter two will be appointed by the military members on the sovereign council.........

© Al Jazeera