The Republic of Sudan received its independence from the combined control of Egypt and the United Kingdom on January 1st, 1956. Since that time, it has had six heads of state and three sovereignty councils, each of which have been comprised by several members, ruling over it. The power held by the office of the president has varied since the creation of the position. Some of the Presidents held an honorary position, such as with President Ismail Al-Azhari, while others exercised total control, as has been the case with President Omar al-Bashir.
Ibrahim Abboud became the first head of state of the independent Republic of Sudan in 1958. He was born in 1900, and he attended the Military College in Khartoum. Abboud joined the Egyptian Army in 1918 and later the Sudan Defense Force in 1925 upon its creation. He served in different countries during the WWII and rose to be the commander of the Sudan Defense Force. After Sudan’s independence in 1956, Ibrahim Abboud was made the Commander in Chief of the Sudanese military. Two years after independence, the military staged a coup and overthrew the civilian government. General Abboud took over the military government. His aim was to end the state of chaos, instability, and degeneration in Sudan. Ibrahim Abboud managed to improve Sudan’s economy and foreign relations during his reign. However, he faced opposition from various groups. People in the South of Sudan led in opposing the military government. In 1963, the conflict developed into a civil war between the northern troops and southern guerrillas. Ibrahim Abboud dissolved his government in 1964. He resigned later in the year marking the end of his military rule.
Ismail Al-Azhari was born in 1900. He studied mathematics and graduated to become a teacher and later, an administrator in the colonial government in Sudan. The elite Sudanese formed Graduates' General Congress, and Ismail was elected secretary in 1938. His position as secretary marked his entry into politics. Ismail Al-Azhari was in support of Egypt and against British rule. He became Sudan’s first Prime Minister in 1954. He faced multiple challenges including establishing a government, Sudan’s relations with Egypt, and uniting the Arab, Muslim north, and the Black Non-Muslim South. In 1956, Sudan was declared independent. Ismail Al-Azhari lost a vote of confidence in parliament and resigned in July 1956. In 1965, he was elected Sudan’s President succeeding Ibrahim Abboud, although in an honorary position. He had little power and was overthrown in 1969.
Gaafar Nimeiry was a military officer who led the overthrow of the government of Ismail al-Azahari in 1969. He facilitated the end of the first Sudanese Civil War in 1972 by signing the Addis Ababa Agreement. The agreement granted autonomy to the Southern Sudan people. He made Sudan into a one-party state. Gaafar Nimeiry survived some coup attempts. In 1983, the second Sudanese civil war broke out after Gaafar Nimeiry imposed Sharia law throughout Sudan. He was ousted in a coup in 1985 while on a visit to the US.
Ahmed al-Mirghani was elected as Sudan’s president in 1986 and took over power from Abdel Rahman’s transitional government. He had served for three years before he was overthrown in 1989 by Omar al-Bashir. He unsuccessfully vied for the presidency in 2000.
Omar al-Bashir is Sudan’s current President. He has been President since 1989 when he successfully staged a coup. He has since been re-elected thrice in elections that have been questionable. He oversaw the cessation of South Sudan in 2011 after a referendum vote to separate from Sudan. Omar al-Bashir has been accused of various crimes that include significant corruption, torture, and extermination of some ethnic groups. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants against him accusing him of committing genocide.
Sudan has a federal presidential and democratic system of government. However, the current President exercises authoritarian rule. The legal system in Sudan is based on Sharia law. Due to the strict Islamic rules used in Sudan, the country’s leadership has been accused of human rights violations.
|Presidents of the Republic of Sudan||Term in Office|
|None; Led by a 5-member Council||1956-1958|
|None; Led by a Sovereignty Council||1964-1965|
| Abdel Rahman Swar al-Dahab||1985-1986|
|Omar al-Bashir (Incumbent)||1989-Present|