The Most Prominent Political Parties in Sudan
The ruling National Congress Party:
The National Congress Party came onto the scene in 2000 after the Islamic Movement split into the National Congress under the leadership of Omar al-Bashir and the People’s Congress under the leadership of Hassan at-Turabi.
The Party’s opponents accuse it of using all of the country’s resources for its own benefits; others believe that there are no longer any boundaries between the party and the government.
In spite of at-Turabi splitting from the Islamic Movement and forming a new group, the majority of the National Congress Party’s leadership are former Islamic Movement leaders, whom some describe as “at-Turabi’s pupils.” The most prominent of those “pupils” are Ghaazi Salaahudeen, Advisor to Sudan’s President, and ‘Ali ‘Uthmaan Muhammad TaHa, Sudanese Vice President.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement:
Up until 2005, the People’s Movement was an armed faction that fought against the successive Sudanese governments since 1983.
After signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the Sudanese Government in January 2005, the Movement became a political party and helped rule the North, which separated from the South.
Some observers of Sudanese affairs believe that the Movement faced difficulties when shifting into a political party due to the fact that it continued to fight for nearly 22 years.
The People’s Movement suggests slogans of unity so that the country can remain united. The latest developments since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, however, suggest that the option of splitting may be better for the future of southern Sudan, as agreed upon in 2011.
The Movement also puts forth the idea of “a new Sudan” and aiding “the marginalized.” The Movement says that it is not only a southern movement but that it strives to aid all those marginalized in the country.
In spite of the fact that the majority of its members are from southern Sudan, the Movement has a considerable presence in the South Blue Nile and South Kordofan States, which are run by the law of the People’s Council.
The People’s Movement has strong ties with the United States and a number of Western countries.
The People’s Congress:
Hassan at-Turabi established the People’s Congress after differing with Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir.
A number of individuals known as “the Scholars of the Islamic Movement” joined at-Turabi. From amongst them are Ibrahim as-Sanusi, Ahmad ‘Abdur-Rahmaan, and Yaseen Omar al-Imaam.
A number of Islamic Movement leaders described as being strict, who fought in southern Sudan and were known as “Dabbabin (the Tank Snipers),” also joined at-Turabi.
Ever since at-Turabi entered Sudan’s political arena after the 1964 Revolution, his political views and religious verdicts have been controversial and sparked much debate.
After differing with al-Bashir, at-Turabi made his famous statement, “I told him to go to the castle as president and that I would go to the castle as a prisoner.” He also openly admitted to planning the coup of June, 1989 led by al-Bashir.
The National Ummah Party:
The National Ummah Party, led by Sadiq al-Mahdi, is considered one of the oldest and most respected Sudanese political parties as it was established before Sudan’s independence.
The National Ummah Party is the political front for the Ansar sect, which derives its name from the Arabic word for “support,” as its followers supported al-Imam Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi, who led the revolution against the Turkish rule in the 19th century.
The Party derives its power from middle-class Sudanese sympathetic with the Mahdi revolution, which established a government that ruled Sudan from 1885 until 1898 before falling at the hands of British colonization.
It is based on this heritage that the Party derives its Islamic direction, although it does not resemble the Muslim Brotherhood present in Arab countries.
The Party’s leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi, made attempts at reviving his interpretation of the religion of Islam and has authored many books and articles in this regard.
Sadiq al-Mahdi (the grandson of al-Imam Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi) became head of Sudanese Ministers twice: the first time was in 1965, but his government lost power after a few months; the second time was in 1986, but he again lost power in the coup led by current president Omar al-Bashir.
The Untied Democratic Party:
The UDP is also considered an old and well-respected political party. It has continued to share power with the Ummah Party throughout Sudan’s period of democratic rule.
The Party was founded as the result of a treaty between the United National Party and the People’s Democratic Party (the political front for the Khatmiya sect).
The President of the Party and patron of the Khatmiya sect, Muhammad ‘Uthman al-Mirghani, has a large religious influence in Sudan, especially in the northern and eastern regions.
Many of the Party’s leaders, however, object to al-Mirghani’s administrative methods and believe that he is the only one with any real power.
In the current elections many of the Party’s members were nominated under the United National Party, which is considered a moderate party in Sudan. This step is somewhat of an expression of their rejection of al-Mirghani’s dominance.
In spite of these recent events, it seems from the current election campaign that the National Congress Party is the biggest and most organized of the political parties in Sudan.