Africa > North Africa > Sudan > Sudan Government Profile 2013

Sudan: Sudan Government Profile 2013



President Omar Bashir 

Omar Hassan al-Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1989 and has ruled with an iron fist ever since.

Mr Bashir faces two international arrest warrants - issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague - on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The charges relate to the conflict in the western Darfur, where thousands of people died of violence, disease and displacement during the fighting between government and rebel forces.

He has dismissed the allegations and has continued to travel to nations which oppose the indictment.

Kenya - an ICC signatory - chose not to enforce the arrest warrant at the same time as Mr Bashir paid a visit to Nairobi in 2010, but in November 2011 a Kenyan high court judge ruled that he should be arrested if ever he set foot in the country again.

At the same time as Mr Bashir took power in the 1989 military coup against the elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi he dissolved parliament, banned political parties and set up and chaired the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, which ruled through a civilian government.

He formed an alliance with Hassan al-Turabi, the leader of the National lslamic Front, who became the regime's ideologue and is thought to be behind the introduction of Islamic Sharia law in the north in 1991. In 1993 Mr Bashir dissolved the Revolutionary Command for National Salvation, concentrating power in his own hands.

Mr Bashir was elected president in 1996. A new constitution was drawn up and some opposition activity was permitted.

But in late 1999 Mr Bashir dissolved parliament and declared a national of emergency next Mr Turabi tried to give parliament the power to remove the president and to reinstate the post of prime minister.

President Bashir won re-election in 2000. Supporters of the National Congress Party filled the parliament. The opposition boycotted the poll, accusing Mr Bashir of vote-rigging.

In April 2010 he won Sudan's initial multi-party elections in 24 years. International observers criticised the election as falling short of international standards. A lot of opposition parties withdrew from the race, alleging widespread vote rigging and intimidation.

Vice-president: Ali Osman Taha

A former initial vice-president and foreign minister, Ali Osman Taha was the chief government negotiator in the transaction that ended the north-south civil war in 2005.

He stepped down to allow John Garang, and again Salva Kiir, to take up the initial vice-presidency, and has served as second vice-president ever since.

A member of President Omar Bashir's National Congress Party, he is seen as a loyalist who has undertaken extensive diplomatic missions to depend the government's actions in Darfur and to lobby against the international arrest warrant against the president.


The government is led by President Lt. Gen. Umar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, who assumed supreme executive power in 1989 and retained it through several transitional governments in the early and mid-90s before being popularly elected for the first time in March 1996. The First Vice President is Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha since 17 February 1998, and the Second Vice President is Moses Machar, who assumed duties on 12 February 2001. The president is both the chief of state and head of government, and he appoints the Council of Ministers—currently dominated by The National Congress Party (NCP)—formerly the National Islamic Front (NIF). The president serves a five-year term.

The last election was held 13-23 December 2000, but was widely dismissed as rigged, and was boycotted by all opposition parties. The next election was scheduled for 2005. The unicameral National Assembly consists of 360 seats—270 popularly elected and 90 elected by supra assembly of interest groups known as the National Congress. Members serve four-year terms. Elections were held 13-22 December 2000 with the next elections scheduled for December 2004.

Historically, the government has experienced several coups and reconfigurations. A constitution took effect only on 8 May 1973—Sudan's first permanent governing document since independence in 1956. It established a presidential system and a one-party state, with the Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU) as the only political party. Nominated by the SSU for a six-year renewable term, the president (after confirmation by national plebiscite) appointed vice presidents, a prime minister, and cabinet ministers, who were answerable to him. The president was also supreme commander of the armed forces. Legislative power was vested in the 151-seat National People's Assembly.

This constitution was suspended on 6 April 1985. A temporary constitution was established on 10 October 1985, pending a permanent one to be drawn up by the National Assembly elected in 1986. A six-member civilian Supreme Council, including a president, was established as the nation's executive body in 1986, replacing the military council that had seized power in 1985. A Council of Ministers, led by a prime minister and responsible to the National Assembly, was also established to carry out executive powers.

After the 1989 military coup, the 1985 transitional constitution was suspended. In January 1991, the RCC imposed Islamic law in the six northern provinces. Executive and legislative authority was vested in a 15-member Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). Its chairman, acting as prime minister, appointed a 300-member transitional National Assembly. In mid-October 1993, Bashir dissolved the RCC and officially declared himself president.

On 30 October 1993, President Bashir announced a new, predominantly civilian cabinet that consisted of 20 federal ministers, most of whom retained their previous cabinet positions. On 9 February 1995 Bashir abolished three ministries and divided their portfolios to create several new ministries. These changes had the effect of increasing the National Islamic Front's presence at the ministerial level and consolidating its control over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bashir was elected to a five-year term in March 1996. In 1998, a new constitution was promulgated that nominally provided for a multi-party political system. Registration of new parties took place in 1999.

Local government

Local government experienced reorganizations in 1983, 1989, and 1994. The constitutional decree of 2 February 1994 created 26 states, each subdivided into 66 provinces and 218 districts. President Bashir has stated his intention to devolve executive and legislative powers "never experienced in remote areas" to state governments. In theory, states are to be led by elected governors, deputy governors, and a cabinet of ministers.

Judicial system

The court system includes regular courts (both criminal and civil), special security courts, military courts, and tribal courts. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, as the senior judge, presides over the judiciary and according to the 1973 constitution, is directly responsible to the president through a council headed by the president. Civil justice is administered by the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, and lower courts, while criminal justice is administered by major courts, magistrates' courts, and local people's courts.

As of 20 January 1991, the now defunct Revolutionary Command Council imposed Islamic law in the northern states. For Muslims, justice in personal matters such as domestic relations and probate, is administered by Muslim law courts, which form the Shari'ah Division of the Sudan judiciary. The Shari'ah Division includes a court of appeal, high courts, and qadis' courts. The president of the Shari'ah judiciary is the grand qadi.

The judiciary remains largely subservient to the government. In 1989 the National Salvation Revolution Command Council (RCC) placed responsibility for supervision of the judiciary with the Ministry of Justice. The 1989 Special Courts Act created three-person security courts to handle offenses involving violations of constitutional decrees, emergency regulations and some sections of the Penal Code. A 1993 decree dissolving the RCC gave the NIF-dominated transitional National Assembly the power to issue constitutional decrees.

Government type: 

Government of National Unity (GNU) - the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) formed a power-sharing government under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA); the NCP, which came to power by military coup in 1989, is the majority partner; the agreement stipulated national elections in 2009, but these were subsequently rescheduled for April 2010

Administrative divisions: 

25 states (wilayat, singular - wilayah); A'ali an Nil (Upper Nile), Al Bahr al Ahmar (Red Sea), Al Buhayrat (Lakes), Al Jazira (Gezira), Al Khartoum (Khartoum), Al Qadarif (Gedaref), Al Wahda (Unity), An Nil al Abyad (White Nile), An Nil al Azraq (Blue Nile), Ash Shimaliyya (Northern), Bahr al Jabal (Central Equatoria), Gharb al Istiwa'iyya (Western Equatoria), Gharb Bahr al Ghazal (Western Bahr el Ghazal), Gharb Darfur (Western Darfur), Janub Darfur (Southern Darfur), Janub Kurdufan (Southern Kordofan), Junqoley (Jonglei), Kassala (Kassala), Nahr an Nil (River Nile), Shimal Bahr al Ghazal (Northern Bahr el Ghazal), Shimal Darfur (Northern Darfur), Shimal Kurdufan (Northern Kordofan), Sharq al Istiwa'iyya (Eastern Equatoria), Sinnar (Sinnar), Warab (Warab)


1 January 1956 (from Egypt and the UK)

National holiday: 

Independence Day, 1 January (1956)


Interim National Constitution ratified 5 July 2005

Legal system: 

based on English common law and Islamic law; as of 20 January 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; however, the CPA establishes some protections for non-Muslims in Khartoum; some separate religious courts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; the southern legal system is still developing under the CPA following the civil war; Islamic law will not apply to the southern states


17 years of age; universal

Legislative branch: 

bicameral National Legislature consists of a Council of States (50 seats; members indirectly elected by state legislatures to serve six-year terms) and a National Assembly (450 seats; 60% from geographic constituencies, 25% from a women's list, and 15% from party lists; members to serve six-year terms)

Judicial branch: 

Constitutional Court of nine justices; National Supreme Court; National Courts of Appeal; other national courts; National Judicial Service Commission will undertake overall management of the National Judiciary

Political parties and leaders : 

Democratic Unionist Party or DUP [Hatim al-SIR]; National Congress Party or NCP [Umar Hassan al-BASHIR]; Popular Congress Party or PCP [Hassan al-TURABI]; Sudan People's Liberation Movement or SPLM [Salva KIIR]; elements of the National Democratic Alliance or NDA including factions of the Democratic Union Party [Muhammad Uthman al-MIRGHANI] and Umma Party

Political pressure groups and leaders: 

Umma Party [SADIQ Siddiq al-Mahdi]; Popular Congress Party or PCP [Hassan al-TURABI]; Darfur rebel groups including the Justice and Equality Movement or JEM [Khalil IBRAHIM] and the Sudan Liberation Movement or SLM [various factional leaders]

International organization participation: 


Flag description: 

three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with a green isosceles triangle based on the hoist side; colors and design based on the Arab Revolt flag of World War I, but the meanings of the colors are expressed as follows: red signifies the struggle for freedom, white is the color of peace, light, and love, black represents Sudan itself (in Arabic 'Sudan' means black), green is the color of Islam, agriculture, and prosperity