Sudan: Key people and parties

Parties & Groups

Chad: Thousands of displaced persons from Darfur reside in the neighbouring country of Chad and they accuse Sudan of funding militia cross-border strikes into UNHCR camps. In return, in May 2008, Sudan accused Chad of arming and assisting rebels who attacked Khartoum cut diplomatic relations.

International Crimal Court (ICC): In March 2009 the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. He is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, a decision is pending on whether to extend the charges to genocide. Sudan rejects all charges.

Justice and Equality Movement (JEM): An armed rebel group involved in the conflict in Darfur, and fighting against the government. Formed mostly from elements formerly loyal to Hassan al-Turabi.

Sudan Liberation Movement/Army: An anti-government militia involved in the Darfur conflict, and seeking greater autonomy for the region. It has since broken into a number of fractions.

Liberation and Justice Movement: Currently the only Darfuri rebel group with an active peace deal with the Sudanese government.

Janjaweed Militia: Mainly formed from Arabic-speaking nomadic tribes, that have been involved in low-level land conflict with the pastoral groups. However, as the JEM and SLM/A led insurgency in Darfur began, the government used the Janjaweed as a proxy force for both fighting rebel groups and perpetrating the genocide in the region that has killed an estimated 400,000 people.

Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (RCC-NS): Led the 1989 coup, and suspended all aspects of democracy, including the free press and political parties. Influenced heavily by the policies of the NIF, the RCC-NS pushed forward the implementation of sharia.

National Islamic Front: Founded by al-Turabi in 1979. It was part of the coalition government that was overthrown by the 1989 coup, many of it’s leaders were briefly jailed afterwards, but the party came to exercise almost complete control over the actions of the new government.

National Congress Party (NCP): Led by President Bashir, it was, until the peace agreements, the only legally recognised political party in Sudan.

Popular National Congress Party (PNC): A splitter group of the NCP, led by Turabi, that in 2000 allied with the SPLA/M.

Sudanese People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M): Under the leadership of John Garang this southern based group first took up arms against government forces in 1983. Comprised of the political wing, the SPLM, and the armed faction the SPLA. Largely - but not exclusively - southern and Christian, the groups stated goals are for a democratic, secular south Sudan.

UNMIS: The 10,000 strong UN peacekeeping force operating in Sudan since the signing of the CPA in 2005. Its current mandate expires in April 2010. Has a mandate to use force in the protection of civilians.

Ex-combatants: Over two decades of civil war has meant that few men in the south have not received at least some form of military training as part of the militias. This, and the ready availability of small arms, has led to to a large upsurge in local conflicts in the south that threaten to undermine the peace process.


Omar al-Bashir: Current President of Sudan. He came to power in 1989 after leading a bloodless coup against the government of Sadiq al-Mahdi. He is currently the subject of an international arrest warrant from the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Hassan al-Turabi: Former speaker of the National Assembly and former leader of the National Islamic Front. Turabi has served under various governments, and is believed to have played a major role in the introduction of Sharia law in Sudan. He was a part of the government overthrown by the al-Bashir coup in 1989, and was briefly imprisoned shortly after, however he soon returned to government - as the influence of his National Islamic Front over the coup leaders presented itself - until a disagreement with Bashir led to his removal. In early 2011, al-Turabi was arrested for calling for a "Tunisian-style revolution" in Sudan, and is currently in jail.

John Garang: The founder and leader of SPLA/M until his death in 2005. A believer in a united Sudan, albeit one with greater representation for the south, Garang signed the Comprehensive Peace Treaty in 2005.

Salva Kiir Mayardit: One of the founding members, and current leader of SPLM and President of Southern Sudan. He is a strong supporter of an independent South.

General Athor: A former general in the SPLA, General George Athor began a rebellion against the Southern government after failing to become the Governor for the Jonglei state in the April 2010 elections. He is one of a number of former SPLA soldiers involved in rebellions in the South.