The government is led by President Lt. Gen. Umar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, who assumed supreme executive power in 1989 and retained it through several transitional governments in the early and mid-90s before being popularly elected for the first time in March 1996. The First Vice President is Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha since 17 February 1998, and the Second Vice President is Moses Machar, who assumed duties on 12 February 2001. The president is both the chief of state and head of government, and he appoints the Council of Ministers—currently dominated by The National Congress Party (NCP)—formerly the National Islamic Front (NIF). The president serves a five-year term.
The last election was held 13-23 December 2000, but was widely dismissed as rigged, and was boycotted by all opposition parties. The next election was scheduled for 2005. The unicameral National Assembly consists of 360 seats—270 popularly elected and 90 elected by supra assembly of interest groups known as the National Congress. Members serve four-year terms. Elections were held 13-22 December 2000 with the next elections scheduled for December 2004.
Historically, the government has experienced several coups and reconfigurations. A constitution took effect only on 8 May 1973—Sudan's first permanent governing document since independence in 1956. It established a presidential system and a one-party state, with the Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU) as the only political party. Nominated by the SSU for a six-year renewable term, the president (after confirmation by national plebiscite) appointed vice presidents, a prime minister, and cabinet ministers, who were answerable to him. The president was also supreme commander of the armed forces. Legislative power was vested in the 151-seat National People's Assembly.
This constitution was suspended on 6 April 1985. A temporary constitution was established on 10 October 1985, pending a permanent one to be drawn up by the National Assembly elected in 1986. A six-member civilian Supreme Council, including a president, was established as the nation's executive body in 1986, replacing the military council that had seized power in 1985. A Council of Ministers, led by a prime minister and responsible to the National Assembly, was also established to carry out executive powers.
After the 1989 military coup, the 1985 transitional constitution was suspended. In January 1991, the RCC imposed Islamic law in the six northern provinces. Executive and legislative authority was vested in a 15-member Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). Its chairman, acting as prime minister, appointed a 300-member transitional National Assembly. In mid-October 1993, Bashir dissolved the RCC and officially declared himself president. On 30 October 1993, President Bashir announced a new, predominantly civilian cabinet that consisted of 20 federal ministers, most of whom retained their previous cabinet positions. On 9 February 1995 Bashir abolished three ministries and divided their portfolios to create several new ministries. These changes had the effect of increasing the National Islamic Front's presence at the ministerial level and consolidating its control over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bashir was elected to a five-year term in March 1996. In 1998, a new constitution was promulgated that nominally provided for a multi-party political system. Registration of new parties took place in 1999.