National Congress (Sudan)
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The National Congress or National Congress Party (NCP) (Arabic: المؤتمر الوطني; al-Mu'tamar al-Waṭanī) is the governing official political party of Sudan. It is headed by Omar al-Bashir, who has been President of Sudan since he seized power in a military coup on 30 June 1989, and began institutionalizing Sharia law at a national level. The party follows ideologies such as Islamism, Pan-Arabism, and Arab nationalism.
Formation of the Party
With Omar al-Bashir becoming President of Sudan, the National Congress Party was established as the only legally recognized political party in the nation in 1998, with very same ideology as its predecessors National Islamic Front (NIF) and the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, which al-Bashir headed as Chairman until 1993. As the sole political party in the state, its members quickly came to dominate the entire Sudanese parliament. However, after Hassan al-Turabi, the speaker of parliament, introduced a bill to reduce the president's powers, prompting al-Bashir to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency, a split began to form inside the organization. Reportedly, al-Turabi was suspended as Chairman of National Congress Party after he urged a boycott of the President's re-election campaign. Then, a splinter-faction led by al-Turabi, the Popular National Congress Party (PNC) which was renamed the Popular Congress Party (PCP) shortly afterwards, signed an agreement with Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), one of the largest rebel groups in the country, which led al-Bashir to believe that they were plotting to overthrow him and the government. Al-Turabi was subsequently imprisoned in 2000 on allegations of conspiracy before being released in October 2003.
Approving South Sudanese autonomy
In 2000, following the Sudanese government approving democratic elections that were boycotted by the opposition, it merged with the Alliance of Working Peoples' Forces Party of former President Gaafar Nimeiry. This merger later disintegrated with the launch of the Sudanese Socialist Union Party. The utility of the elections was questioned due to their boycotting by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Umma Party. At those legislative elections, December 2000, the party won 355 out of 360 seats. At the presidential elections of the same year, its candidate Omar al-Bashir won 86.5% of the popular vote and was re-elected. National Congress Party members continue to dominate the Lawyers' Union and heads of most of North Sudan's agricultural and university student unions. Following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the SPLM in 2005, the NCP-dominated government of Sudan allowed Southern Sudan autonomy for six years, to be followed by a referendum on independence in 2011, thus ending the Second Sudanese Civil War. South Sudan voted in favour of secession.
War in Darfur
Since the outbreak of the War in Darfur in 2004 between the government of Omar al-Bashir and rebel groups such as the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the NCP has been almost universally criticised for allegedly, however not officially, supporting Arab militias such as the Janjaweed through a campaign of murder, rape and deportation against the local population. Because of the guerrilla warfare in the Darfur region, between 200,000 and 400,000 people have been killed, while over 2.5 million people have been displaced and the diplomatic relations between Sudan and Chad has never been worse. This has led to the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicting State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Haroun and alleged Muslim Janjawid militia leader Ali Mohammed Ali, also known as Ali Kosheib, in relation to the atrocities in the region. On July 14, 2008, ten criminal charges were announced against President Omar al-Bashir, and subsequently a warrant for his arrest has been issued, but has yet to be executed.
Despite his international arrest warrant, President Omar al-Bashir remained the leader of the NCP and its candidate in the 2010 Sudanese presidential election, the first election with multiple political parties participating in ten years. His political rival was Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit, who was also leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army and subsequently became President of South Sudan.
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