Constitutional History of Sudan

According to the 2005 constitution, the President of Sudan is the highest executive position in the Sudanese government, as it includes the post as Commander of the Sudanese Army, followed by two co-Vice Presidents, one representing the northern Islamic branch of the government and the other representing the southern African branch who mostly follow Christianity and indigenous beliefs. There is currently no position of Prime Minister, although there has been several earlier, as that post was abolished with the ousting of Sadiq al-Mahdi in 1989.

The political system of the Republic of Sudan was restructured following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, replacing the previous authoritarian government in which all effective political power was in the hands of President Omar al-Bashir, who took power in a military coup on 30 June 1989, and began institutionalizing Sharia law in the northern part of Sudan along with Hassan al-Turabi. Further on, 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. Al-Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) was created and became the only legally recognized political party in the country for the next decade. Under al-Bashir's leadership, the new military government suspended political parties and introduced an Islamic legal code on the national level. 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, andminister of defense.

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 a military coup in 1985, regional assemblies were suspended. With the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation abolished in 1993 by al-Bashir, and the ruling National Islamic Front changed its name to theNational 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.

However, after Hassan al-Turabi, then-speaker of parliament, introduced a bill to reduce the president's powers, prompting al-Bashir to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency, tensions began to rise between al-Bashir and al-Turabi. 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) signed an agreement with Sudan People's Liberation Army(SPLA), which led al-Bashir to believe that they were plotting to overthrow him and the government. On al-Bashir's orders, al-Turabi was imprisoned based on allegations ofconspiracy in 2000 before being released in October 2003.

The peace agreement with the rebel group Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in 2005 granted Southern Sudan autonomy for six years, to be followed by a referendum about independence. 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, but also left both the north's and south's armies in place. Following the Darfur Peace Agreement, the office of senior Presidential advisor was allocated to Minni Minnawi, a Zaghawa of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA), and this thus became the fourth highest constitutional post. Executive posts are divided between the National Congress Party (NCP), the Sudan People's Liberation Army, Eastern Front and factions of the Umma Party and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The National Legislature of Sudan is the Sudanese parliament, and is also divided between the these parties, with two chambers: the National Assembly and the Council of States. The parliament consists of 500 appointed members altogether, where all members serve six-year terms.

Despite his international arrest warrant, Omar al-Bashir is a candidate in the upcoming 2010 Sudanese presidential election, the first democratic election with multiple political parties participating in nine years. His political rival is Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit, current leader of the SPLA.