The Sudan Armed Forces have played a leading role in the politics of the country since independence in 1956. The army has been criticised for exploiting popular grievances to assume power and then establishing repressive regimes that circumvent the will of the people.

In 1958, just two years after independence, Chief of Staff Maj Gen Ibrahim Abboud took power in a bloodless coup.

A popular uprising forced the military to relinquish power in 1964.
The military then returned to power in another coup d’etat in 1969 led by Col Jaafar el-Nimeiri. Nimeiri himself weathered subsequent coup attempts and rebellions.

In 1985, Lt-Gen Abdel Rahman Swar al-Dhahab led a group of military officers in overthrowing el-Nimeiri.

A year later, al-Dhahab handed over power to the elected government of Prime Minister al-Sadiq al-Mahdi.

But three years later, in June 1989, Islamist military officers led by a Brigadier Omar al-Bashir overthrew Al-Mahdi’s unstable rule.
Thirty years on, Bashir remains in charge, having seen off several challenges to his rule.