Politics of Sudan

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Currently, the politics of Sudan takes place in the framework of a Federal provisional government. Previously, a President was head of state, head of government, and commander-in-chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces in a de jure multi-party system. Legislative power was officially vested in both the government and in the two chambers, the National Assembly (lower) and the Council of States (higher), of the bicameral National Legislature. The judiciary is independent and obtained by the Constitutional Court.[1] However, following a deadly civil war and the still ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan was widely recognized as a totalitarian state where all effective political power was held by President Omar al-Bashir and his National Congress Party (NCP).[2][3][4][5] However, al-Bashir and the NCP were ousted in a military coup which occurred on April 11, 2019.[6][7] The government of Sudan was then led by the "Transitional Military Council" or TMC.[8][9][10][11] On 20 August 2019, the TMC dissolved giving its authority over to the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, who are planned to govern for 39 months until 2022, in the process of transitioning to democracy.


The political system of the Republic of the Sudan was restructured following a military coup on 30 June 1989, when Omar al-Bashir, then a brigadier in the Sudanese Army, led a group of officers and ousted the government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. Under al-Bashir's leadership, the new military government suspended political parties and introduced an Islamic legal code on the national level.[12] He then became Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (a newly established body with legislative and executive powers for what was described as a transitional period), and assumed the posts of chief of state, prime minister, chief of the armed forces, and minister of defense.[13] Further on, after institutionalizing Sharia law in the northern part of the country along with Hassan al-Turabi, al-Bashir issued purges and executions in the upper ranks of the army, the banning of associations, political parties, and independent newspapers and the imprisonment of leading political figures and journalists.[14] In 1993, Sudan transformed into an Islamic totalitarian one-party state as al-Bashir abolished the Revolutionary Command Council and created the National Islamic Front (NIF) with a new parliament and government obtained solely by members of the NIF, and proclaimed himself President of Sudan. As a result, the Second Sudanese Civil War with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) would only escalate in the following years.[15][16]

From 1983 to 1997, the country was divided into five regions in the north and three in the south, each headed by a military governor. After the military coup in 1989, regional assemblies were suspended. With the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation abolished in 1993 and the ruling National Islamic Front (NIF) forming the National Congress Party (NCP), the new party included some non-Muslim members, mainly Southern Sudanese politicians, some of whom were appointed as ministers or state governors.

In 1997, the structure of regional administration was replaced by the creation of twenty-six states. The executives, cabinets, and senior-level state officials are appointed by the President, and their limited budgets are determined by and dispensed from Khartoum. The states, as a result, remain economically dependent upon the central government. Khartoum state, comprising the capital and outlying districts, is administered by a governor.

Following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 between the government of Omar al-Bashir and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), a Government of National Unity was installed in Sudan in accordance with the Interim Constitution whereby a co-Vice President position representing the south was created in addition to the northern Sudanese Vice President. This allowed the north and south to split oil deposits equally,[17] but also left both the north's and south's armies in place.

Following the Darfur Peace Agreement, the office of senior Presidential advisor, the fourth highest constitutional post, was allocated to Minni Minnawi, a Zaghawa of the Darfur-based Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA). Executive posts were divided between the National Congress Party (NCP), the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), Eastern Front and factions of the Umma Party and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). This peace agreement with the SPLM/A granted Southern Sudan autonomy for six years, to be followed by a referendum about independence in 2011. According to the new 2005 constitution, the bicameral National Legislature is the official Sudanese parliament, and is divided between two chambers; the National Assembly, a lower house with 450 seats, and the Council of States, an upper house with 50 seats. Thus the parliament consists of 500 appointed members altogether, where all are indirectly elected by state legislatures to serve six-year terms.[1]

Despite his international arrest warrant, Omar al-Bashir was re-elected in the 2010 Sudanese presidential election, the first democratic election with multiple political parties participating in nine years.[18][19] His political rival was Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit, current leader of the SPLA.[20][21]

In December 1999, a power struggle climaxed between president Omar al-Bashir and Hassan al-Turabi, NIF founder, Islamist ideologue and speaker of parliament. Al-Turabi was stripped of his posts in the ruling party and the government, parliament was disbanded, the constitution suspended, and a state of national emergency declared by presidential decree. Parliament resumed in February 2001 after the December 2000 presidential and parliamentary elections, but the national emergency laws remain in effect. Around the same time the Black Book, a manuscript by dissident Westerners detailing the domination of the northern peoples, was published. Al-Turabi was arrested in February 2001, and charged with being a threat to national security and the constitutional order for signing a memorandum of understanding with the SPLM/A. He was placed in a maximum-security prison until freed in 2005.

As part of the agreement ending the Second Sudanese Civil War, nine members of the SPLM/A and 16 members of the government were sworn in as Ministers on 22 September 2005, forming the first post war government of national unity. The inauguration was delayed over arguments over who would get various portfolios and as a result of the death of vice president John Garang. The National Congress Party kept control of the key energy, defense, interior and finance posts, while an SPLM appointee became foreign minister. Vice President Salva Kiir was reported to have backed down in the argument over who would have control of the vital Ministry of Energy and Mining, which handles the output of Sudan's oil fields.

On April 11, 2019, al-Bashir and his government were overthrown in a military coup lead by his First Vice President and Defense Minister, who then established the now ruling military junta.[8][6][9][7] The next day Auf handed power to Lt. General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan.[11][10][22][23]

Sudan’s Sovereign Council, the military-civilian body that is the highest power in the transitional government, has ruled Sudan since the fall of Omar al-Bashir. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is the civilian leader of the cabinet.[24]

In October 2020, Sudan made an agreement to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel, as part of the agreement the United States removed Sudan from the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.[25]

As of August 2021, the country was jointly led by Chairman of the Transitional Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.[26]

Executive branch[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Sovereignty Council 11 members, headed by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (mixed military–civilian) 20 August 2019
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok (عبدالله حمدوك) (independent) 21 August 2019

President al-Bashir's government was dominated by members of Sudan's National Islamic Front (NIF), a fundamentalist political organization formed from the Muslim Brotherhood in 1986; in 1998, the NIF founded the National Congress as its legal front; the National Congress/NIF dominates much of Khartoum's overall domestic and foreign policies; President al-Bashir named a new cabinet on April 20, 1996 which includes members of the National Islamic Front, serving and retired military officers, and civilian technocrats; on March 8, 1998, he reshuffled the cabinet and brought in several former rebel and opposition members as ministers; he reshuffled his cabinet again on January 24, 2000 but announced few changes. A government of national unity was sworn in on 22 September, with 16 members from the National Congress, nine from the SPLM and two from the northern opposition National Democratic Alliance, which left the seats vacant in protest over how the posts were allocated. The Darfur rebels were not represented. Al-Bashir, as chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (RCC), assumed power on June 30, 1989 and served concurrently as chief of state, chairman of the RCC, prime minister, and minister of defense until 16 October 1993 when he was appointed president by the RCC; upon its dissolution on 16 October 1993, the RCC's executive and legislative powers were devolved to the president and the Transitional National Assembly (TNA), Sudan's appointed legislative body, which has since been replaced by the National Assembly elected in March 1996; on December 12, 1999 Bashir dismissed the National Assembly during an internal power struggle between the president and speaker of the Parliament Hasan al-Turabi

On April 11, 2019, al-Bashir was ousted in a coup led by Vice President and Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, with his government then being dissolved afterwards.[27][28] On April 12, 2019, Auf, who still serves as Minister of Defense, handed power to Lt. General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, general inspector of the armed forces.[22][23]

Legislative branch[edit]

The country was recently in an interim (transitional) period following the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005 that officially ended the civil war between the Sudanese Government (based in Khartoum) and the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) rebel group. The newly formed National Legislature, whose members were chosen in mid-2005, had two chambers. The National Assembly (Majlis Watani) consisted of 450 appointed members who represent the government, former rebels, and other opposition political parties. The Council of States (Majlis Welayat) had 50 members who are indirectly elected by state legislatures. All members of the National Legislature served six-year terms. However, the National Legislature was dissolved during the April 2019 coup as well.[29]

Political parties and elections[edit]

Judicial branch[edit]

Supreme Court; Special Revolutionary Court

Legal system[edit]

The legal system is based on Islamic law; as of January 20, 1991, the now defunct Revolutionary Command Council imposed Islamic law in the northern states; Islamic law applies to all residents of the northern states regardless of their religion; some separate religious courts; accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction, with reservations.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Sudan is divided into twenty-six states, each of which were governed by a governor and council of ministers, each member of each state of council of ministers were appointed by the president of the country. The elections of governors was different from others, the president picks three people who he decided will be running against each other, the one who wins at least 50% popular vote is the governor of that state. If no one wins at least 50% popular vote, the person with the fewest votes is disqualified from the campaign and they redo the election and then someone has to have at least 50% popular vote. The following are the states of Sudan. (wilayat, singular wilayah): A'ali an Nil, Al Bahr al Ahmar, Al Buhayrat, Al Jazirah, Al Khartum, Al Qadarif, Al Wahdah, An Nil al Abyad, An Nil al Azraq, Ash Shamaliyah, Bahr al Jabal, Gharb al Istiwa'iyah, Gharb Bahr al Ghazal, Gharb Darfur, Gharb Kurdufan, Janub Darfur, Janub Kurdufan, Junqali, Kassala, Nahr an Nil, Shamal Bahr al Ghazal, Shamal Darfur, Shamal Kurdufan, Sharq al Istiwa'iyah, Sinnar, Warab. However, state governments and their legislative councils were also dissolved during the April 2019 coup as well.[30]

International organization participation[edit]

State and local government[edit]

Relations between the central government and local authorities have been a persistent problem in Sudan.[31] According to the Interim National Constitution, each state had its own legislative, executive, and judicial organs.[31] The state-empowered local government and state constitutions determined the organization and electoral procedures for local government.[31] Each state was headed by a governor and a state council of ministers.[31] The governor, together with the state council of ministers, exercised the executive powers of the state in compliance with the schedule of responsibilities set forth in the Interim National Constitution.[31] Each state had its own capital and was divided into several localities or provinces, which, in turn, were subdivided into administrative units.[31] Governors were elected in 2010, and they appointed their own ministers.[31] All 15 Northern governors were from the NCP except for the Blue Nile governor, who was a member of the SPLM.[31] Revenue flowed upward to the federal treasury.[31] Some levels of government became so small, however, that they did not have a solid financial base.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Africa :: Sudan — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency". www.cia.gov. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  2. ^ Adam, Ahmed H. "What next for Sudan after Bashir's nomination for a third term?". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  3. ^ Gallab, Abdúllahi A. (2001). "The Insecure Rendezvous Between Islam and Totalitarianism: The Failure of the Islamist State in the Sudan". Arab Studies Quarterly. 23 (2): 87–108. JSTOR 41858375.
  4. ^ Olivia Warham, Special for. "President al-Bashir feels heat from 'Sudanese Spring'". CNN. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  5. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Refworld | Human Rights Watch World Report 1994 - Sudan". Refworld. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Sudan's military removes al-Bashir: All the latest updates". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "| Time". Archived from the original on April 12, 2019. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Abdelaziz, Khalid (2019-04-13). "Head of Sudan's military council steps down, a day after Bashir toppled". Reuters. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  9. ^ a b "Sudan's defense minister, who ousted nation's longtime leader, resigns just one day after takeover - The Washington Post". Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Sudan coup leader resigns, protesters celebrate 'triumph'". 12 April 2019.
  11. ^ a b https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/sudan-demonstrators-civilian-government-1.5095171
  12. ^ Bekele, Yilma (2008-07-12). "Chickens are coming home to roost!". Ethiopian Review. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  13. ^ Cowell, Alan (1989-07-01). "Military Coup In Sudan Ousts Civilian Regime". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  14. ^ Kepel, Jihad (2002), p.181
  15. ^ Wasil Ali, "Sudanese Islamist opposition leader denies link with Darfur rebels", Sudan Tribune, 13 May 2008.
  16. ^ "Profile: Sudan's President Bashir". November 25, 2003. Retrieved October 3, 2019 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  17. ^ "Some Reflection on Upcoming Division of Sudan". Mohammad Mufti. 2011-01-17. Archived from the original on 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
  18. ^ "SPLM Kiir to run for president in Sudan 2009 elections - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". www.sudantribune.com. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  19. ^ "Esatern Sudan Beja, SPLM discuss electoral alliance - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". www.sudantribune.com. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  20. ^ "SPLM Kiir to run for president in Sudan 2009 elections". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  21. ^ "404 De pagina is niet gevonden". home.kpn.nl. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Sudan's deputy head of transitional military appointed". euronews. April 12, 2019. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  23. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-04-14. Retrieved 2019-04-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ https://www.voanews.com/africa/sudan-prime-minister-hamdok-names-new-cabinet
  25. ^ https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/sudan-formally-recognizes-israel-u-s-brokered-deal-n1240839
  26. ^ https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/3136536/sudan-threatens-use-military-option-regain-control-over-border-ethiopia
  27. ^ "Sudanese army says it holds president, won't extradite him". PBS NewsHour. April 12, 2019. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  28. ^ "Sudan's government has been dissolved". edition.cnn.com. April 11, 2019. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  29. ^ Sarah El Sirgany, Nima Elbagir and Yasir Abdullah. "Sudan's President Bashir forced out in military coup". CNN.
  30. ^ "Sudan's Top General Sworn In as Leader of New Ruling Body". The New York Times. 2019-08-21. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Shinn, David H. (2015). "State and local government" (PDF). In Berry, LaVerle (ed.). Sudan : a country study (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 242–244. ISBN 978-0-8444-0750-0. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.CS1 maint: postscript (link)

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