Protesters take part in demonstrations against the military rule in Khartoum, Sudan, March 24, 2022. A Sudanese court has acquitted eight activists accused of killing a military intelligence agent at a protest rally last year in the capital of Khartoum. Defense lawyers said the court Monday, March 6, 2023 ordered their release. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali, file)

By Jack Jeffery,
The Associated Press

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan’s military leaders and pro-democracy forces will delay the signing of an agreement to usher in a civilian government, both sides said in a joint statement issued early April 1.

The postponement of the signing — which had been scheduled for later April 1 — comes as key security reform negotiations between the Sudanese army and the country’s powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces appear to have reached a deadlock.

Military generals met with pro-democracy leaders that same day in the capital of Khartoum and agreed to sign the deal on April 6, said Khalid Omar, a spokesman for the pro-democracy block, in a separate statement.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the U.N., the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa, who have facilitated talks between the military and pro-democracy groups.

Sudan has been mired in chaos after a military coup, led by the country’s top Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, removed a Western-backed power-sharing government in October 2021, upending the country’s short-lived transition to democracy.

But last December, the military, the RSF and numerous pro-democracy groups signed a preliminary deal vowing to restore the transition.

In recent months, internationally brokered workshops in Khartoum have sought to find common ground over the country’s thorniest political issues in the hope of signing a more inclusive final agreement.

Chief among the discussion points have been security sector reform and the integration of the RSF into the military — the topic of this week’s talks. But talks ended March 29 without any clear outcome.

Shihab Ibrahim, a spokesperson for one of the largest pro-democracy groups that signed December’s deal, said the army and the RSF have struggled to reach an agreement over the timeline of the integration process.

The army wants a two-year timeline for integration while the RSF has called for a 10-year window, he said.

Spokespersons for the Sudanese army and the RSF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.