For the third consecutive month, the Sudanese people’s uprising continues calling for long-time autocratic President Omar Al-Bashir and his regime to unconditionally step down. On Tuesday, 5 March 2019, a successful one-day strike was launched in the capital Khartoum and major towns and cities across the country. This new wave of protests and strikes came in defiance of the state of emergency declared by Al-Bashir in a bid to quell the protests on Friday, 22 February. The one-year emergency order bans demonstrations or gatherings, and established emergency courts to try those accused of violating the decree. Al-Bashir dissolved the federal state governments and replaced all governors with military officers. He delegated his powers as the head of the ruling party to its recently appointed deputy head, Ahmed Harun, one of those Sudanese personalities wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Since 19 December 2018 protests have taken place in Sudan nearly every day. Initially they were spontaneously sparked by the sharp increase in prices of basic commodities, the rising cost of living, and shortages of food and fuel, but quickly developed into the most sustained anti-government challenge Al-Bashir has faced since taking power in 1989. More than 50 civilians have been killed, hundreds injured, and about two thousand detained as Sudanese security forces brutally responded to the peaceful protests with tear gas, batons, and live ammunition.
A Country in Crisis
Since its independence on 1 January 1956, Sudan has been plagued by crises and conflicts relating to questions of identity, development, ethnic relations, the appropriate form of governance, and other factors. Such crises were manifested in the civil war that claimed the lives of millions, created a miserable reality, and led to a marked deterioration in all aspects of life: economic, political, and even in the society’s set of values. The country only emerged from the longest civil war between the central government, which is dominated by Muslim Arabs, and the African non-Muslim rebels in the south, in 2005. This war lasted from 1955 until 1972 when the conflicting parties signed the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement that lasted for ten years. But in 1983 the war erupted again, lasting until the Ceasefire Agreement in 2003 which paved the way for the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. According to that agreement, the people of South Sudan attained the right to self-determination and, effectively determined in 2011, to secede from Sudan and establish the Republic of South Sudan. Yet civil war continued to plague other regions of the country. In June 2011 violent conflict erupted between the central government in Khartoum and the armed opposition in Southern Kordofan and the Southern Blue Nile (predominantly Africans with a considerable number of followers of Christianity and African local beliefs). Meanwhile, the war in Darfur that erupted in 2002 continues between the central government and the Darfur rebels (non-Arab Muslims). According to UN figures, civil wars in Sudan have claimed the lives of approximately three million people, besides an uncountable number of wounded and disabled, and almost seven million people that have either been internally displaced or sought refuge in neighbouring countries, in addition to burning and destruction of thousands of villages. In short, the impact has been catastrophic, and since 2002 Sudan has maintained its position among the most unstable and failed states in the world.
In parallel to the civil war, Sudan suffers from a sequence of military dictatorship and civic democratic rule, a phenomenon that is referred to in Sudanese political literature as the “vicious circle” or “sinister episode”, i.e. military rule overthrown by a popular uprising, then a short period of democratic rule quickly followed by another military coup, and so forth. Thus, in describing the situation in Sudan instability prevails as the general trait. In fact, out of 63 years of its independence Sudan enjoyed only ten years of democracy, while the rest was under the abyss of military dictatorships. Because of this “vicious circle” and the civil wars, Sudan has been in deep crisis since its independence. This crisis is characterized by continuous conflicts and disputes among the political actors and national formations in the country over how to build the post-colonial national state. Thus, the Sudanese crisis is the natural manifestation of the failure to resolve fundamental issues related to establishing and building the post-colonial independent national Sudanese state. These fundamental issues include:
- The governance framework and the proper system of government that guarantees equitable share in power between the national state and the different ethnic groups. This issue has not been resolved yet in Sudan, and until now there is no permanent constitution in the country.
- The neutrality of state institutions civil and military alike. This neutrality has been badly violated in Sudan since independence. For example, the National Islamic Front (NIF) later known as the National Congress Party (NCP), which took power through the military coup on 30 June 1989, expelled, dismissed, and forced into retirement more than 50,000 officers, soldiers, and officials from the army, police, and civil service including the judiciary while recruiting only Islamists to these institutions, resulting in catastrophic and disastrous effects. Moreover, nowadays many ethnic groups in Sudan have their own military militias.
- Sudanese political forces did not comply through any of the democratic eras to reach a consensus on the appropriate electoral system for Sudan. There is also no consensus on the role of civil society organizations in the democratic process.
- The question of equitable and fair distribution of wealth and resources is not settled yet in Sudan. Actually, the unequal distribution of wealth and the struggle for resources are among the main causes of the civil war in Sudan.
- Until today the debate rages about the relationship between religion and the state. Some, but still not all, Arab Muslim political parties entertaining the logic of the majority in the face of the minority insist on the imposition of Islamic ideology in the country against the will of non-Muslims and the advocates of the separation of religion from politics. This is also one of the causes of the civil war in the country.
- The identity question: what is the essence of Sudanese nationality? Arab or African? Or is it just the so-called “Sudanic” identity? The identity question has manifested itself in the conflicts about language, culture, education, media, etc.
From the above discussion it is very clear that the crisis in Sudan is not fleeting or temporary, but a national, chronic, deep, and comprehensive crisis. Its roots extend back to the dawn of independence, then became compounded and complicated through inadequate and erroneous management carried out by all the civilian and military regimes that have governed Sudan throughout the period that followed independence. It is obvious and self-evident that the depth of this crisis is deeply rooted in the construction of the nation and state to the extent that it can only be solved by adopting a national renaissance project, which can only be achieved with a consensus that does not exclude anyone and through a national dialogue between all the Sudanese political, national, and social formations and actors.
The role of the military in Sudanese politics is evident and clear. In one aspect, this role does not differ from that in other developing countries where post-independence state institutions are poorly structured, political parties are weak, and crisis prevails. In such situations and atmospheres, the army, being the most organized and disciplined armed organ, is expected to intervene and rule. However, in Sudan the socio-political conflicts in the country are reflected in the army and shape its role in Sudanese politics. In 1958, when the country sustained a severe political crisis, the ruling Umma Party invited the high command of the army to seize power. In the 1964 uprising the junior officers in the army aligned with the uprising and forced the military regime of 1958 to step down. The political crisis reached its climax in 1969 when the ruling centre-right alliance composed of the Umma Party (Al-Mahdi) and the Democratic Unionist Party (Al-Merghani) supported by the Islamic Charter Front (Al-Turabi) called to transform Sudan into an Islamic Republic with an Islamic constitution. This move was strongly opposed by the Communist Party and its allies. The centre-right alliance dissolved, banned the Communist Party, and expelled its elected members from parliament. This crisis ended when the leftist junior officers in the army, mainly Communists and Pan-Arabists, took power in May 1969 in a coup led by Numeiry. A political conflict erupted in the leadership council of the coup shortly thereafter, and in 1971 Numeiry crushed the Communists and continued as a dictatorial regime. In April 1985, after strong pressure from the junior army officers, the high command of the army aligned with the popular uprising that overthrew the Numeiry regime. In June 1989 the National Islamic Front (Al-Turabi), through its members among the army officers, carried out a military coup and established an Islamic military regime under the leadership of Al-Bashir who is still in power.
The 1989 Military Coup
Today, Sudan is still governed by the regime of the 30 June 1989 military coup referred to as the Inqadh regime and headed by Al-Bashir. While the Inqadh regime witnessed many changes in terms of policies, personnel, and allies, its core has remained intact in terms of blatant ideological orientation founded on the imposition of the Islamic project on the state and society in accordance with the vision of the National Islamic Front (NIF) that carried out the coup. Since day one, the Inqadh regime embarked on implementing a number of measures to assert its full control over state and society, in politics, economy, security, media, culture, etc. At the forefront of these measures and actions were:
- Tyranny and human rights violations: An unprecedented official policy of tyranny and human rights violations, which the NIF leadership adopted with the aim of cracking down on opponents and thus subjugating them. This policy included systematic torture of opponents that led to the deaths of dozens of political detainees and excessive use of force against citizens, including shoot-to-kill for simple reasons.
- Redistribution of national resources exclusively to the benefit of NIF supporters: This was done through freezing bank accounts and deposits, banning the circulation of foreign currency outside banks (some young people were executed after they were caught in possession of a few hundred dollars and for dealing in foreign currency exchange), and revealing bank accounts of Sudanese businessmen and merchants for the benefit of NIF cadres and traders, who in turn enjoyed huge allocations of banking funds. The result was, on the one hand, impoverished and bankrupt traditional national businessmen and capitalists, some of whom had to flee the country, and on the other hand enriched and wealthy new NIF capitalists. Liquidation of state-owned institutions and selling their assets at cheap prices to NIF cadres and companies also followed, destroying the largest productive institutions such as the Al-Gezira Scheme (the largest agricultural scheme in the world under one single administration), Sudan Railways, Sudan Airways, Sudan Shipping, etc. Consequently, almost all economic sectors went under the management or supervision and control of companies directly related to the NIF, or indirectly through individual NIF affiliates and the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), army, police, and pro-NIF student, youth, and women’s organizations, etc. Moreover, the regime introduced what is referred to as Al-Tajneeb, i.e. setting aside part of some state institutions’ revenues generated from a daily fee paid by the average citizen for routine transactions. These funds are not included in the state’s general budget, opening the door to the spread of unprecedented corruption throughout the country.
- Systematic cleansing of the state apparatus: Executing the largest ever “massacre” against the civil service by expelling thousands of competent workers, clerks, civil servants, professionals, judges, etc., and further depriving them of the right to work. These people were replaced by NIF loyalists without paying due attention to standards of competence, expertise, and knowledge. Moreover, employment and promotion policy in the civil service was confined to NIF affiliates and supporters. Another large “massacre” was executed against the military by expelling thousands of army and police officers and emptying the police and military institutions of any national content, transforming the army, police, security, and intelligence institutions into militias and ideological institutions directly reporting to the governing party. Moreover, in parallel to the army and police the NIF established its own militias, security, and intelligence apparatuses under the name “Popular Security”. All of these entities report directly to the NIF leadership. Also, the NIF has tightened its grip over the judiciary and legal institutions to the extent that judicial rulings are practically issued by the NIF leadership, or at least with its consent in all political, civil, and criminal cases. Consequently, impunity and non-accountability has prevailed.
- Forceful imposition of the ruling party’s ideology: An attempt to forcefully impose the ruling party’s vision and ideology of political Islam on the entire country, under titles and slogans such as “Reformulating the Society” and the “Civilization Project”. Underpinning such visions is a disregard of the Other as well as ethnic and religious arrogance, hence the spread of a culture of violence and war and forceful conscription of students, youth, and children from marginalized areas and, subsequently, sending them into the bonfire of civil war as human shields. Moreover, the ruling party adopted a backward view of women, attempting to drag them back to the dark ages. It also attempted to spread the culture of myth and superstition, and to distort Sudanese art and cultural heritage.
Today, after more than a quarter-century of its rule, this governing faction of political Islam exacerbated the Sudanese crisis and tossed the country into an abyss of troubles and tragic reality to the extent that now there are concrete and clear odds and indicators of the disintegration and collapse of the Sudanese state. Thus the bitter reality in the country continues and the situation is strained. It is now blocked with no hope and the system’s inability to administer the country seems obvious as it descends into the abyss. This is the main factor behind the current uprising in the country.
The Atmosphere of the Uprising
The current wave of protests in Sudan has been the largest, most sustained, most organized, and the widest in geographical distribution to ever take place in Sudan. Initially, the protests were spontaneously sparked by the increase in prices of basic commodities, rising costs of living, and shortages of food and fuel, then quickly developed into an anti-government rally under the slogan “Just Fall, That Is All". It meant the only demand of the protestors was the resignation of the president and the downfall of the whole regime. This demand is not due to the current devastating economic crisis in the country, although it marks a climax, but also came as a result of many other factors discussed above. The other main slogan of the protests is “Freedom, Peace, and Justice”. The protests started in Al-Damazin City, the capital of the war-torn state of the Blue Nile, on 13–15 December 2018. They then spread to Atbara City of the Nile state in northern Sudan on 19 December, accompanied by many cities in the same day such as Dongola in the far north, Al-Gadarif in the east, Al-Obaid in central Sudan, Al-Nuhud in the west, and Port Sudan on the Red Sea. After that, protests spread to cover most of the cities, towns, and rural centres in Sudan. The protests erupted in Khartoum, the capital, on 20 December and spread to the northern cities that the ruling party claimed were a stronghold of its supporters including Shandi City, the hometown of President Al-Bashir and many other leading figures. A fundamental characteristic of all these initial protests was the spontaneous march of the people against the headquarters and premises of the National Congress Party (NCP), the ruling party. Protestors and demonstrators were clearly reflecting their frustration of the continuation of the NCP as the ruling body rather than protesting specific governmental measures. This has shaken the capacity of the ruling NCP class beyond repair; especially with the sustainability and growth of the protests in terms of size, number, and geographical coverage.
The protests and demonstrations are characterized by the dominance of youth, including young women, the broad use of social media. Although these platforms have been blocked by the regime from the first week of protests, activists succeeded in accessing them by using virtual private networks. The protests have also united people from different tribes, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds.
The vast majority of the demonstrators are from the middle class, mainly professionals and students. The presence of the working class is weak. In fact, the presence of the working class in the country in general is weak due to the policies of the Inqadh regime that liquidated most of the state sectors with a high presence of workers.
Drivers and Factors
The economic situation: While the Sudanese economy has continued to suffer since the independence of South Sudan in 2011, the government has no horizons for solutions. It became clear that the economic collapse was a symptom of a deeper political crisis. Sudan received significant financial support from Gulf Arab countries after the independence of the South and especially after the engagement of Bashir in the Yemen War. However, this money was misused and wasted due to corruption. For example, in 2015 alone the Sudanese government received a grant of 1.5 billion US dollars but it did not go to the Central Bank reserve nor appear in a formal balance sheet.The grant was wasted in three corrupt deals distributed between top officials and ministers. In 2016, the Sudanese government received loans from Gulf countries and the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) at interest rates of 3 percent and 4 percent. However, this money was also directed to build the new Presidential Palace, to the Army, the pro-government militia, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) without proper monitoring or documentation, nor considering supporting and financing the productive sectors to help get the country out of its economic crisis. Similar types of corruption led to wasting the income of other resources. For example, Sudan’s gold production in the first nine months of 2018 reached 78 tons. However, the revenue of this production does not usually appear in the government budget and its balance sheets. Over 75 percent of gold is smuggled, with allegations that this smuggling is being enabled by corruption as well as governmental militia control over the gold sector. Thus, it is not the poverty of Sudan that is the problem, but rather the structural and systematic corruption within the regime and the state apparatus that play the major role in accelerating the economic crisis.
- The political blockade: The repeated failures of peace negotiations between the government and the armed opposition, the lack of the seriousness in implementing the recommendations of the government-led National Dialogue (ND), and the absence of any horizon of political accommodation in the country all led to widespread public desperation about any scope of political solution in the country. This desperation fed into increasing frustration due to the fact that the dictatorship has been there for three decades, and sparked demands for a radical change of the political system in Sudan.
- Mismanagement of public funds: The largest part of the general annual budget is allocated to the security and defence sector while less than five percent of the budget goes to service sectors (health, education, and social services collectively received less than five percent of the 2018 budget). In the 2018 government budget, in which over 70 percent of revenue depended on taxation and fees taken from citizens, the government allocated around 2.5 billion Sudanese pounds to the health sector, 4.5 billion to the education sector, and 2.7 billion to support agriculture. The same budget allocated 20.3 billion pounds to the Ministry of Defence, 4.2 billion to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), 4.7 billion to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), 6.5 billion to the Ministry of the Interior, and 4.6 billion to parliament. This practically led to the collapse of the public services provision sector, which in turn increased the frustration of middle-class professionals confronting their inability to conduct their professional and moral duties within a collapsing environment that is ill-equipped and lacks sufficient funding. Such allocations have represented the usual expenditure on these sectors for the last 30 years, leading to a total collapse of the public sector and the public losing any services provided from the government, while the professional middle class is unable to conduct its professional duties in an acceptable level. Moreover, the allocation of the general budget ignores the productive sector. This in turn has aggravated the economic crisis, leaving the Sudanese economy dependent on foreign aid from regional entities.
- The urban/rural divide: The NCP continued to claim a wide base of support in the rural northern riverine areas of Sudan. This led the government to neglect the provision of services in these areas and depend on hegemonic discourse to maintain its base of support without taking real material measures. Towards the end of last year the government tested new economic measures in the rural areas by lifting bread subsidies in some cities, quickly tripling prices. Protests immediately exploded on the streets, spreading to other rural areas of Sudan before arriving in the capital.
- Growing anger towards the regime: The government has lost significant parts of its constituency since the September 2013 massacre in which the regime security forces killed around 200 young protestors in less than two weeks. The urban riverine citizens the government tends to consider its natural supporters based on their Arab-Islamic inclinations have lost their children to the regime militias’ brutality. The existence of these militias was recently acknowledged by the former vice-president, Ali Osman Taha, who stated that “the authorities have full shadow battalions ready to sacrifice their lives to defend the regime” in a TV interview. People of northern and central Sudan witnessed with their own eyes the brutality of the ruling party’s security forces usually only practiced in the marginal areas of Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile. This brutality, exercised in the name of protecting the self-proclaimed Arabic and Islamic identity of the Sudanese people, killed the sons and daughters of these very people. The president himself was at the centre of these events, having instructed security forces to use “Plan B” (shoot to kill). This cost him every last shred of his image as an acceptable populist leader.
Actors and Players
Although the protests erupted spontaneously, strategic leadership has nevertheless emerged: namely, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a new movement representing middle-class professionals that spearheaded the protests, stepping into the vacuum created by the weakness of the opposition parties. It represents a broad coalition of trade union activists including doctors, engineers, lawyers, journalists, schoolteachers, university professors, and others. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) was formed in January 2014 mainly to advocate for a living wage for families and a better work environment. When the first protests against the rising cost of living broke out on 19 December the SPA saw a chance to highlight their demands for an increased minimum wage, but the demands quickly developed into regime change. When the SPA published a statement urging people to take to the streets many had never heard of the organization, but thousands responded nevertheless. People were ready to take to the streets but they wanted leadership, and the SPA came at the right time with the right message. It took the lead in orchestrating the subsequent protests.
The SPA had planned a march to parliament on 25 December to demand an increase in the minimum wage. After the outbreak of the protests, it changed the direction of the march to the presidential palace and the objective became forcing the president to step down and dismantling the regime. That march’s massive success encouraged the SPA to propose the Freedom and Change Declaration (FCD), adopted and signed by the political and civil forces on 1 January 2019. The FCD calls for the immediate unconditional departure of al-Bashir and his regime, the formation of a national transitional government, the repeal of all laws restricting freedoms, and bringing the perpetrators of crimes against the Sudanese people to a fair trial.
So far the declaration has been signed by 19 parties and groups, but the main signatories are:
- The Sudanese Professionals Association
- The Sudan Call, an opposition alliance headed by Mr. Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and composed of the Umma Party, the Sudan Congress Party, Sudan Alliance Forces, the Sudanese Ba’ath Party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North, the Civil Society Initiative, the Sudan Liberation Movement, the Justice and Equality Movement (the last two are Darfurian movements), and other small parties.
- The National Consensus Forces, another opposition alliance headed by Mr. Farouq Abu Isa and composed of the Sudanese Communist Party, The Pan-Arabists (a different, Nasserite faction of the Ba’athists), and other small parties.
- The Civil Force Assembly, a forum for many civil society organizations.
A coordination council of all the signatories was subsequently created to lead the protests. In this regard there are two added values—one is that the council includes the social movements, women, and youth movements which are becoming very active. The majority of these movements are fairly left-wing. The second added value is the inclusion of the rebel armed movements in this alliance, bolstering the chances of stopping the civil war and maintaining peace in Sudan in the case of a peaceful transition to democracy.
Al-Bashir’s regime serves a wide range of regional and international interests at a very cheap price. It sent troops to Saudi Arabia in support of both the Saudis and Emirates in the war in Yemen in exchange for Gulf money. The regime also supported the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam against the objections of Egypt and some concerned Sudanese engineers. It struck a deal with the European Union on migration (the so-called “Khartoum process”). The regime played an important role in serving US interests in Libya, in addition to its role in the peace process in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. All these actions increased the Al-Bashir regime’s diplomatic weight. In fact, the international community is using President Al-Bashir’s ICC warrant to hold him hostage, making him a cheap client to serve its interests while, in turn, Al-Bashir takes Sudan and its people hostage with his insistence on staying in power using the security apparatus.
The stances taken by these regional and international bodies towards the Sudanese uprising will be in accordance with their interests. Ethiopia and Eritrea both face the danger of Sudan’s NCP militantly supporting opposition factions in their own countries. The Gulf states’ position will be determined by the war in Yemen. South Sudan may prefer to deal with a democratic regime in the North, but its priority is to keep the current fragile peace deal in the South brokered by Khartoum and thus will not risk antagonizing the NCP regime. The only viable pressure on the regime can come from the EU, UK, and the US. These powers already engage in processes of support and dialogue with the NCP regime. Their engagement is risk-free and not endangered by Sudan’s NCP like the rest. But it seems that Western powers prefer to support a dictator for the sake of building walls to keep out African migrants than positioning themselves on the side of the Sudanese people fighting for democratic change and a constitutional order.
The current situation in Sudan provides the perfect setting for a military coup. The coup will either be in support of the uprising, as happened during the previous uprisings in 1964 and 1985, or could also be in support of a new face for the Islamic regime, i.e. reproducing the existing regime in a different, more acceptable form. In the latter case, the uprising could continue and more casualties could be expected. Yet currently multiple competing militias and military forces exist affiliated to the Sudanese government. All these militias are eager to seize power, especially in light of the regime’s loosening grip on power. As tension and competition between these militias grows and lacking any ideological bond between them, the risk of a major armed confrontation is high in this situation. Such a confrontation could lead to the country’s collapse. If the status quo continues and the NCP manages to avoid confrontation between its militias, the middle and lower ranks within the Sudanese Armed Forces will be encouraged to attempt such a coup. The last few weeks witnessed a growing wave of criticism of the government among the middle ranks, leading the President and the Minister of Defence to organize many meetings to calm them down with promises of financial rewards. Last week he sacked dozens of officers from the army whom he believes are not loyal to him.
It is clear that some of the regional as well as some international actors are monitoring the situation in Sudan carefully and closely, and that some of them may encourage this or that group in the army to take over.
The other scenario is the peaceful resignation of the president. This will require, firstly, the continuation and escalation of protests, secondly the political will on the part of the president, and thirdly discussions and options for his personal future, primarily the issue of his indictment at the International Criminal Court. It will also require sending positive signals not only to the armed forces but also to the defecting Islamists from the ranks of the regime. In my opinion, this would be the best scenario. Of course, the balance of force is always the decisive factor. For now, I think it is too early to speak about concrete scenarios. Moreover, in all cases we should not forget that the so-called “deep state” is always a factor.
Dr. Elshafie Khidir Saeid has been a leading figure in Sudanese politics for the last 40 years and actively involved in major political events. He is a daily columnist for newspapers in Khartoum and London and the author of Tribe & Politics in Sudan (2016).
 Sudan is among the most diverse countries in the world, hosting multiple ethnicities (black Africans, Arabs, and Nubians), multiple religions (Islam, Christianity, and local African beliefs), multiple cultures, and almost 300 languages.
 After Sudan obtained independence in 1956 the first national government was democratically elected. But in less than three years that government was overthrown by the military coup of 17 November 1958, which imposed a military dictatorship on the country lasting for six years before it was overthrown by the October 1964 popular uprising that established democratic pluralistic rule. That in turn lasted for less than five years, as it was overthrown by the military coup of 25 May 1969. This second military dictatorship lasted for 16 years before being overthrown by the April 1985 popular uprising (usually referred to as the Intifadaor Venda). The Intifadapaved the way for Sudan’s third democratic era, but was again overthrown in less than five years by the military coup of 30 June 1989, which established a dictatorial regime for the third time that still sits on the chest of the country.
 Elshafie Khidir Saeid, “The Crises Challenges in Sudan”, Al-Ayyam, 1621, 2000.
 The leaders of the coup called their regime Inqadh,which means “salvation”.
 The National Islamic Front (NIF) is an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). In the late 1940s the MB was established in the Sudanese universities as a branch of the Egyptian MB. In 1954 the first general congress of the Sudanese MB was convened, confirming its connections with the Egyptian MB. In the 1960s, Al-Turabi became the leader of the organization and turned his back on the Egyptian and international MB but not on the concept itself, and the organization continued as the Sudanese MB. With every new historical turn or event in the country, Al-Turabi deployed the tactic of changing the name and structure of the MB, but the essence remained. In the mid-1960s he transformed the MB into the Islamic Charter Front, then National Islamic Front after the 1985 uprising, then the National Congress Party, the ruling party since 1989. In 1999 a power struggle broke out within the National Congress Party between Al-Turabi on the one hand and Al-Bashir and Turabi’s closest supporters on the other. The ruling party split and Al-Turabi established the Popular Congress Party, joining the opposition for some time before re-joining the government, but both parties remain off-shoots of the MB. Al-Bashir has been a member of the MB since he was in secondary school. In the late 1960s a small faction split from Al-Turabi and continues, until now, under the MB name with connections to the international MB. The Popular Congress Party is now part of the regime, but some of its members support the ongoing uprising.
 An Arabic word meaning to set money aside.