In August 2019, a transitional government
took office in Sudan, four months after the country's
authoritarian president Omar al-Bashir was toppled in a
military coup after 30 years in power. The transitional
regime consists of a civil-military council and a
civilian government that will lead the country until the
general elections in 2022.
Sudanese politics has been characterized by economic
decline and social unrest since the country's 2011
divide in Sudan and South Sudan (see Modern History).
The two neighboring countries still have unresolved
border conflicts between themselves (see Conflicts:
Sudan-South Sudan). Sudan is also drawn with several
internal conflicts, not least the one in Darfur in the
west (see Conflicts within Sudan).
Country facts and history of Sudan, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
The 2010s were characterized by recurring mass
demonstrations against the hard-line rule of the then
President al-Bashir and against rapidly rising food and
fuel prices when the increasingly poor state could no
longer subsidize basic commodities. The country's oil
income fell sharply in the partitioning of the country,
as most of the oil sources went to South Sudan (see
It was just such a period of nationwide protests that
preceded the military coup that in April 2019 caused al-Bashir's
regime to fall. Violent popular protests against
increased living costs erupted in December 2018, the
same day that Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the opposition
Umma Party, returned to Sudan after nearly a year in
The street protests began in Atbara in eastern Sudan,
where protesters set fire to al-Bashir's power party
NCP's office in the city. The protests then spread and
soon reached the twin cities of Khartoum and Omdurman
where they increasingly became the nature of
regime-critical demonstrations. Eventually,
demonstrations were held in several places, for example
in the south and in Darfur.
At the end of January 2019, authorities reported that
some 30 people had been killed in the protests, while
Amnesty International estimated the number of dead to at
least 40. The government responded to the troubled
situation in the country promising "real reforms" and
dismissing a minister, but the Above all, the protesters
met with tough police action.
The protests had popular support, but were organized
by a group of highly educated people within the SPA
(Sudanese Professionals Association) movement. SPA was
formed in 2012 by about 200 teachers and lecturers at
the University of Khartoum after the adoption of a new
law restricting the freedom of political parties. SPA
soon emerged among teachers at other universities and in
professional groups such as doctors, lawyers,
veterinarians, engineers and journalists.
During the 2018/2019 demonstrations, SPA was given a
clearer political role and made demands on Bashir's
departure. The SPA was supported by several political
parties, including the Umma Party, whose leader al-Mahdi
openly demanded the resignation of the regime.
Eventually three guerrilla groups joined political
An emergency permit is introduced
When the protests became nationwide, on February 22,
2019, President al-Bashir introduced a state of
emergency throughout the country for one year. He thus
gathered power around himself and the military
leadership. al-Bashir dismissed all but five ministers,
among those who remained, were the Foreign, Defense and
Justice Minister. The president also dissolved all 18
state governments and appointed 18 new governors, 16 of
whom were military commanders and two were from the
Two days later, al-Bashir presented a new
transitional government. The Minister of Defense,
General Awad Ibn Auf, retained his post and was also
appointed Vice President. In doing so, al-Bashir
dismissed his close ally Bakri Hassan Saleh from the
important post. Prime Minister Mohamed Tahir Ayala,
former governor of the state of Jazira. In March, Ayala
formed a new permanent government with 20 ministers. The
Minister of Defense was allowed to remain. The
government's main task was to get the economy on its
feet. The Ayala government was the third in two years
that al-Bashir appointed with the same main task. The
previous two were kicked when the president became
dissatisfied with the result.
By that time, the regime's resistance had merged into
the broad Alliance for Freedom and Change.
Regime-critical protests were carried out despite the
state of emergency, albeit to a lesser extent. Data on
the number of deaths now ranged from around 30 to over
The military deploys al-Bashir
On April 11, 2019, Minister of Defense and Vice
President Awad Ibn Auf announced in a televised speech
that the military was taking over power in the country.
President al-Bashir was reported to be deposited and
placed in detention "in a safe place". Prime Minister
Ayala's government had also been ousted. A military
council, led by Awad Ibn Auf himself, had been formed
and intended to lead the country for two years. After
that, general elections would be held, Auf announced. He
added that a three-month state of emergency had been
introduced, that the constitution was repealed, and that
the border crossings and the country's airspace were
However, the protesters were urged by their leaders
to remain on the streets until a civilian government was
set up. They obeyed the invitation and defied the army's
order for a nightly curfew. From the outside world came
a series of calls to the military council to release a
The continued pressure from the protesters, the
opposition and the outside world forced Auf, who was
closely allied with al-Bashir and strongly associated
with the deposed leader, to resign as leader of the
military council after a day. He was replaced by another
general, Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan, who had
kept a lower profile under al-Bashir.
Burhan promised respect for human rights and an end
to the nightly curfew. He pledged to release political
prisoners, dissolve provincial governments, prosecute
anyone who killed protesters and launch a fierce fight
against corruption. This was not enough for the
protesters' leaders in the SPA. They demanded an
immediate transition to civilian rule.
The military strikes against the protesters
A day later, the military council backed further,
announcing that the opposition and the protesters'
representatives would be able to appoint a new
"independent" head of government and a new civilian
government. In addition, the country's army chief and
national police chief would be replaced. All media
restrictions and all censorship would be abolished.
Police and security people detained for standing on the
side of the protesters would be released.
However, the protesters continued to demand an
immediate transition to civilian rule. After a period of
negotiations, the military council and the protesters'
leadership agreed in mid-May on how to govern the
country during a three-year transition to civilian rule.
Three bodies were to be set up: a supreme governing
council, a civil transitional government and a
The Supreme Council would replace the military
council, but the parties disagreed on what powers it
would have. In addition, the protesters' leadership
wanted armed rebel groups fought against al-Bashir to
take part in the transitional regime, something the
military did not agree with. The military, for its part,
insisted that Islamic Sharia law should continue to form
the basis of the country's legislation.
After the negotiations stalled, the military and
regimental militia went on June 3 and broke up a large
demonstration outside the army headquarters in Khartoum.
Dozens of civilians were killed and around 500 injured
in the campaign, condemned by the UN, the US and a
number of European countries, among others. The AU chose
a few days later to exclude Sudan until further notice.
The conversations resume
The transition regime agreement was annulled by the
military. The demonstration leadership called on the
Sudanese to take part in a "total civil disobedience"
campaign to overthrow the military council. On June 9,
more militants were killed by militia and the death toll
was now reported at 118, according to a medical
organization with ties to the protesters. Authorities
admitted that 49 civilians were shot dead at protesters'
camps in Khartoum.
Later, the protesters' umbrella organization "Forces
of Freedom and Change" stated that at least 127 people
were killed in the strike, while police indicated that
85 were killed and 239 injured between June 3 and 12 in
The AU, the US and several other countries tried to
mediate between the parties and in mid-June the
protesters' leadership and the military council agreed
to participate in indirect talks via the foreign
mediators. At the same time, the military council
lamented that "mistakes were made". The protesters'
leadership blew off the campaign for civil disobedience.
A transitional regime will take office
Finally, in August 2019, the Military Council and the
protest movement's representatives signed an agreement,
the so-called Political and Constitutional Declaration,
which paved the way for a transitional regime in which
military and civilian forces co-operate. The agreement
provides for a governing civil-military council to
govern the country for a transitional period of three
years, together with a civil, technocratic transitional
government (see further Political system). A fully
civilian government is to be elected in general
The Governing Council took office on August 21, with
the departing Military Council leader General Abdel
Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan as continued leader. The
economist and UN diplomat Abdalla Handok were elected
prime minister of the transitional government. In early
September, he was able to present his transitional
In November 2019, the transition board decided that
al-Bashir's old power party NCP would be banned and
dissolved, and that the state would seize the party's
assets. A ban on NCP had long been a demand from the
The same month, the leaders of the military coup were
indicted in 1989. At that time, President al-Bashir was
already placed in a high-security prison, charged with
corruption. In December, he was sentenced to two years'
house arrest for bribery. Al-Bashir had then also been
charged with being ultimately responsible for students
being killed by militia during the demonstrations that
led to al-Bashir's fall.
Coronapandemin reaches Sudan
In the spring of 2020, political change work largely
stopped when the country was reached in March by the
pandemic caused by the new corona virus. Sudan
introduced an emergency permit and closed its borders to
the outside world, with the exception of the
introduction of humanitarian aid. Measures were taken to
try to prevent the spread of the virus.
The transitional government quarantined Khartoum when
it became clear that the infection was still spreading.
The town was closed down and only necessary shops and
service establishments were kept open. Residents were
encouraged to stay at home and transport to and from the
city was kept to a minimum.
Read more about the events in the Calendar.
Read more about Sudan's internal conflicts here.
Read more about the border conflicts in the south
FACTS - POLITICS
Al-Jumhuriya al-Sudan / Republic of Sudan
republic, federal state
Head of State
General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan leads a
transitional council 1
Head of government
acting Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok 2
Most important parties with mandates in the last
National Congress Party (NCP) 323, Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP) 25, other 78 (2015)
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent
National Congress Party (NCP) 323, SPLM 99, others 28
46.4% in the 2015 presidential and parliamentary
general elections 2022
- General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan
will chair the Transitional Council for 21 months
from August 21, 2019
2. Abdalla Hamdok leads a transitional
government until the general elections scheduled for