After gaining its independence from Egypt and the United Kingdom in 1956, Sudan initially was established as a civilian parliamentary republic. Democratic mechanisms, however, have faltered over the years as a series of military and civilian coups brought nonelected leaders to power. In the coup of 6 April 1985 President Gaafar al-Nimeri was overthrown by General Abdul Rahman Suwar al Dahab, who had been promoted to minister of defense only three days earlier. Suwar al Dahab suspended the constitution, declared martial law and formed the Transitional Military Council of 15 senior military leaders to act collectively as the heads of state. Civilian government was restored in 1986 and, in elections held between 1–12 April 1986, Sadiq al Mahdi was chosen prime minister. Mahdi's Umma Party formed a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party to oppose the militant fundamentalist National Islamic Front (NIF). A Constituent Assembly was established to govern the country as its legislative body, while a Council of Ministers, headed by Mahdi, implemented government policy. The executive branch consisted of a five-man Supreme Council which acted collectively as president.
After the 30 June 1989 coup led by Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, Bashir declared a state of emergency, suspended all political activity, and established a 15-member Revolutionary Council. Although initially Bashir's junta ruled Sudan in an autocratic manner with no apparent links to political parties, his group eventually allied itself with the NIF, which sought to reinstate Islamic law ( shariah ). Civilian government was nominally restored in 1993, but Bashir and the NIF remained in control through the 1990s as warfare continued between government forces based in the north and non-Muslim rebels in the southern part of the country.