In 1989, President Al-Bashir seized power in a coup. The constitution was abolished, political parties were banned, and executive and legislative powers were vested in the Revolutionary Command Council. In 1998, a new constitution came into force, which, among other things, established the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers. The Sharia is the basis for the legal system.
After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 9 January 2005, a new interim constitution was written. This has since been adopted by parliament and came into force on 9 July 2005 with the installation of the new President.
The constitution, which will be valid for a period of six years (until January 2011), provides for the establishment of a democratic constitutional state, in which the separation of religion and state in the Christian South is guaranteed and the right to self-determination for South Sudan is clearly established. South Sudan will have its own government and far-reaching autonomy. For the so-called transition areas Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile State, concrete agreements on self-governance have been laid down in separate protocols, which go beyond the general provisions on decentralised government that will apply to the rest of the country.
Executive power is vested in the Council of Ministers (both civilian and military), which is appointed in consultation between the President and the Vice-President, but is formally accountable to Parliament. The political freedom described in the constitution allows political parties to officially engage in political activities. For activities and meetings, however, they need permission from the authorities. Permission to sign the peace agreement was rarely obtained. However, the release of former Vice-President Turabi and the allowing of a political opposition seems to indicate greater political freedom in practice.
Legislative power rests with the National Assembly, which consists of one chamber. Following the peace agreement, a newly composed interim parliament with a separate chamber for regional representatives will be established.
Although the 1998 Constitution provided for the independence of the judiciary, this was not the case in practice. The same law also stipulated that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, his deputies and, if necessary, judges of lower courts could be appointed by the State President. Members of the judiciary may be dismissed in the event of "objectionable" judgements. The new Constitution contains clauses to remedy the above disturbances and to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
The Republic of Sudan is a federation of 26 states. Each state has a governor (the Wali), a deputy governor and sub-state ministers. Governors are appointed by the President. The states are divided into districts (Mahaliyyat) headed by a commissioner and a deputy commissioner. Provinces have been abolished. The state governments are responsible for the economic development of the state, trade, industry, agriculture, housing, tourism, environment, health, education, transport and social affairs.
Until recently, President Al Bashir had seized power. In December 1999, he issued three decrees: he declared a state of emergency, dissolved the National Assembly and partially suspended the constitution.
However, with the entry into force of the new transitional constitution on 9 July 2005, domestic politics have been subject to many changes. The CPA stipulates that 52% of the government and parliament will be composed of members of the National Congress Party (of President Al Bashir) and 28% of the seats will go to the SPLM (of Salva Kiir). Of the remaining 20%, 14% will be held by the NDA (umbrella organisation of the northern opposition parties) with whom the Sudanese government recently reached an agreement. The remaining 6% will be available for groups from the South.
Dr. Hassan Al Turabi, President Al-Bashir's most important opponent, was released along with other political prisoners at the end of June 2005 after years of imprisonment.
Al Turabi, an Islamist, founder of the Popular National Congress party, declined an invitation to join the government of national unity. He prefers a role in the opposition and has entered into an alliance with the al-Mahdi party. At the same time, the ban on political parties was lifted and on 9 July the state of emergency was also lifted, with the exception of parts of the country where there is unrest.
The current political situation is described in the history section.
Sudan is a very poor country that has suffered from long-term social conflict and civil war, and in July 2011 lost three quarters of its oil production as a result of its secession from South Sudan. The oil sector had been the driver of GDP growth since 1999. The economy was booming due to increasing oil production, high oil prices and significant foreign direct investment inflows. Due to the economic shock of South Sudan's secession, Sudan is struggling to stabilise its economy. The interruption of oil production in South Sudan in 2012 and the resulting loss of oil transit fees exacerbated the fragile state of the Sudanese economy. Sudan has also been hit by extensive US sanctions.
Sudan is attempting to develop other sources of income, such as gold mining. Furthermore, Sudan is pursuing an austerity programme to reduce expenditure. Sudan is the world's largest exporter of gum arabic. Agriculture continues to be the source of income for 80% of the labour force. Sudan introduced a new currency after secession from South Sudan, but the value of the currency has declined since its introduction. Khartoum formally devalued the currency in June 2012. Sudan also faces rising inflation, which grew to 47% year-on-year in November 2012, but dropped to 25% in 2013. Due to ongoing conflicts, lack of basic infrastructure in large areas and the dependence of a large part of the population on agriculture, almost half of the population lives at or below the poverty line.
Economic growth was 1.4% in 2017. GDP per capita is $4,300 (2017). Sudan currently produces only three quarters of the agricultural output of around 1980. Agriculture, and cotton production in particular, was an important pillar of the economy. In 2004, sesame seed exports exceeded cotton exports in value. Extensive livestock farming (pastoralism) has a long tradition and is the most suitable form of land use in the drier parts of the country.
Remittances from Sudanese nationals working in the Gulf states are an important source of income. In total, some 2-3 million Sudanese live abroad, mainly in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Libya. The total value of imports was $8.2 billion (2017). Sudan imports mainly food and machinery and medicines from Macau, India and Saudi Arabia. The total value of exports was $4.1 billion (2017). Sudan mainly exports gold, oil and cotton to the united Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia.
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