The army, under the command of Marshal Suwar Al-Dahab, took the sides of the masses and removed Nimeiri from power. After one year at the helm as head of the executive Revolutionary Command Council, Marshal Suwar Al-Dahab stepped down voluntarily (itself a very rare occurrence then in the region), paving the way for pluralistic general elections in 1986.The elected government was a coalition, headed by Sadiq Al-Mahdi, leader of the Umma Party. His government lasted for three years, beset by chronic political instability that led the fragile government to collapse twice. Relentless war with the SPLM in south Sudan weighed heavily on economic and popular living conditions throughout Sudan. With the economy in dire straits, Al-Mahdi solicited an agreement with SPLM leader Dr. Garang to end the war. However, his efforts and those of the Democratic Unionist Party leader, Mohammad Osman Al-Mirghani, to broker a peace with the SPLM proved all in vain. Indeed, SPLM forces continued their advance, reaching some regions even in northern Sudan. Angered and dismayed by its poor armaments at a time of war and general neglect, the Sudan Armed Forces toppled the Government of Sadiq Al-Mahdi.National Salvation
For the third time in the history of Sudan, the army, this time under the command of Lieutenant General Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, had intervened to topple a civilian government on June 30th, 1989. The country fell under the temporary governorship of an interim military council, named the National Salvation Government. Economic, personal security and military conditions throughout Sudan were all hit rock bottom; in other words, the Sudanese populace welcomed generally the army coup, the military council, and its young leader. The same welcoming reaction to the coup was also forthcoming from Sudan’s neighbors, notably from Egypt’s President, Hosni Mubarak. However, following the revelation of the Islamist orientation of Lieutenant General Al-Bashir and some other members of the council declaring the re-enforcement of Sharia law, sweeping international isolation was imposed against Khartoum. Isolation moved in tandem with the escalation of the war in south Sudan and the feting of the SPLM and its leader, Dr. Garang, in countless regional and international forums. Indeed, the SPLM solicited and received backing from successive governments in the USA, under a professed strategy of toppling the government in Khartoum with help from Sudan’s neighbors. In the face of these twin macro threats, the government declared Jihad. Sudanese youth of all hues hurried quickly to support the army, and managed to beat-back southern rebel troops that had been bearing down on some areas in northern Sudan. The government laid emphasis on improving economic performance through national self-reliance. Consequently, Sudan succeeded in extracting oil, raising its annual economic growth rates, and contracting and building a fruitful strategic economic alliance with China, Malaysia, and other Asian countries and, in turn, away from the hegemony of Western nations. Sudan’s steadfastness in the face of a debilitating economic embargo forced the southern rebels to accept several rounds of negotiation eventually aimed at stopping the war. The political performance of the Islamist-oriented Salvation Government matured, too: it changed from revolutionary to constitutional legitimacy in 1998. This change had been preceded by the formation of the National Congress Party (NCP), a broad-based alliance of several political and social components of Sudanese life. Political activity was gradually reinstated. Concurrently, an opposition alliance was formed under the auspices of some neighboring countries - Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya, and (later on) Uganda. This so-called National Democratic Alliance for the Liberation of Sudan comprised, besides SPLM, the Umma Party and Democratic Unionist Party, and some leftist parties. The alliance signed the Asmara Agreement of 1995, recognizing the right to self-determination for southern Sudan. In the wake of this agreement, SPLM expanded the scope of war ever closer to Sudan’s eastern borders with Ethiopia and Eritrea; it also heralded the start of SPLM’s alliance with selected Darfur rebel movements.Political parties were allowed to resume their activities, elections were held, and a presidential system of governance was adopted for ruling Sudan. Prior to then, federalism had been chosen in 1990 as a mode of governance, albeit de facto enforced only in 1994.At the start of the current millennium, a trend advocating the cessation of war in south Sudan gained prominence within the ruling National Congress Party. It called for settling peace quickly in view of the vast material and human resources that had been hemorrhaging continuously from Sudan since war in southern Sudan had erupted in 1955. Accordingly, the first round of peace negotiations with SPLM started to gain serious traction in 2002 with the signing of the Machakos Protocol under the auspices of the international community. It recognized the right of south Sudan’s people’s to self-determination against the enforcement of Sharia law that had prevailed elsewhere throughout Sudan. Negotiations between the central government in Khartoum and SPLM continued, culminating in the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Naivasha, Kenya, during January 2005. Under the terms of the CPA, the SPLM became a key partner in the governing of Sudan. Following a six-year transitional period, a referendum was held to allow the people of southern Sudan to decide either for keeping unity with the rest of Sudan or separating and forming an independent state. On January 23rd, 2011, southern Sudanese opted for the choice of separation. The federal government recognized the result of the referendum unambiguously. It welcomed the opportunity for southern Sudanese to express a decision that constituted clearly a quest for peace shared by virtually all Sudanese. The southern referendum outcome also put the federal government in an ideal environment to accelerate its quest for sustainable peace and economic development throughout Sudan, and divert all the resources that were lost on war to boosting the welfare of citizens in both Sudan and the soon-to-be Republic of South Sudan.The 9th of July 2011 stands as a land mark in the history of Sudan as it was the moment when the seeds of the second republic of Sudan was planted with the people of Sudan, with its leaders aspiring for it to herald the beginning of a new era hallmarked by sustained economic and political stability, security, prosperity, balanced development, and good governance.