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Kenneth Janda
Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey
New York: The Free Press, 1980: pp. 820-821
SUDAN: The Party System in 1950-1958 and 1959-1962
 (Text as published in 1980 citation above)

Party politics in the Sudan features north-south regional divisions that are reinforced by ethnic and religious differences. The northern two-thirds of the country, with about 10 million people, is predominantly Muslim, Arabic-speaking, and in possession of the few urban centers. The southern third, with about 4 million people, is rural and animist--with some Christian minorities. The Sudan was supposedly under joint British-Egyptian administration, but the British were clearly dominant. After the army revolt in Egypt in 1952, the British and Egyptian governments agreed in February 1953 on a plan for Sudanese self-government, with the Sudanese to decide in three years for independence or union with Egypt.

Elections were held in November 1953. Isma'il al'Azhari's National Union Party won 50 seats and Azhari became prime minister. The Umma Party, led by Abdullah Khalil, became the major opposition with 23 seats, followed by the Southern Liberal Party with 16 seats. Azhari, once in favor of union with Egypt, switched to support independence, which was declared by the Sudanese parliament for January 1956. A coalition government of Umma, the Liberals, and the new People's Democratic Party, came to power in July 1956 with Khalil as prime minister. Umma won 63 of 173 seats in the March 1958 elections, while the People's Democratic Party won 27 seats, giving rise to the Umma-PDP coalition headed by Khalil. But a military coup in November 1958 suppressed party politics in the Sudan throughout the end of our time period.

Continuity and Change since 1962

Sudan's profile of party strength in the legislature over time shows another instance of complete change in parties after 1962. None of our original three parties continued to 1978, and a new party arose.

Original Parties, Terminated

741 National Unionist Party. Banned after the military coup of 1958, the NUP resumed operations when civilian government was restored in 1964, and it contested the 1965 elections. In 1967, its name was changed to the Democratic Unionist Party following a merger with the smaller People's Democratic Party. The DUP was terminated in 1969 following the military coup by Colonel Jafaar Muhammad al-Nimeri.

742 Independence or Nation Party. Commonly called Umma, this party was also banned in 1958 and also returned to contest the 1965 elections, winning a plurality of the seats. It soon split in three distinct factions but was reunited in April 1969-just in time to be banned once again by Nimeri. Although the ban was lifted in 1977 and its leader allowed to return from exile to participate in politics, he became a member of the Executive Bureau of the ruling Socialist Union (Africa South of the Sahara, 1978-1979, p. 935). Therefore, we regard Umma as having terminated in 1969.

743 Southern Liberal Party. This was a regional party also banned in 1958, but it did not return with the same vigor upon the resumption of civilian government in 1964. Two other southern parties, the Sudan African National Union (SANU) and the Southern Front, were stronger, but these parties did not exist long enough to qualify for study. Such as it was, the Southern Liberal Party certainly ended with the 1969 coup.

Original Party, Continuing

744 Socialist Union. The SSU was formed Nimeri in 1971 to support his program of Sudanese socialism. It was also intended as a counter to the Communist Party, which supported Nimeri's takeover and which worked closely with him until 1971, when the Communists attempted a coup but were crushed. The Socialist. Union won all seats in the 1974 elections and apparently again in the 1978 elections, which, however, were said to have returned "reconciled opposition candidates, sponsored by the SSU" (Africa South of The Sahara, 1978-1979, p. 935).


In view of changes in Nimeri's policies toward opposition leaders in 1977 and the acceptance of opposition members in parliament under the SSU in 1978, Sudan appears to be entering a new political phase. But, as of 1979, it still must be classified as a single-party system

1. Our study of party politics in Sudan is based on a file of 726 pages from 69 documents, all of which are in English (see Table 1.3). The bibliographic search and indexing of material for the file was done by Ali Sheikholeslami. Qonnie Laughlin used the file to code the Sudanese parties on the variables in the ICPP conceptual framework. Ibrahim Abu-Lughod was our consultant.