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Sudanese Political Parties and Groupings

Last modified: 2019-01-06 by bruce berry
Keywords: sudan | arab | splm | anya-nya | lado | machar | secessionist |
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Sudanese People's Liberation Front

Image by Željko Heimer, 03 Mar 1996

Image by Jaume Ollé and Željko Heimer, 03 Mar 1996

This flag (with red star) is presumably that of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (or Front). It appeared on television during a report related to the war in the south of Sudan and was placed at the side of a personage who I think was Colonel John Garang. The SPLM is not a separatist movement (like the Anya-Nya) but operates in the South with the intention of taking power throughout the country.
Jaume Ollé, 03 Mar 1996

On some web sites the flag (with the yellow star) is named the Christian flag of Sudan or the New Sudan flag. Its colours are described as "black for the Africans, red for those who died, green for the country and a star for the star of Bethlehem." The description of the yellow star as "star of Bethlehem" was found on other (non-Christian) websites, too. If this meaning of the star is "official" or just an individual interpretation it is not clear. The movement name is nowadays used on web-site of Free Sudan Center the Sudan Liberation Movement and its military wing, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLM/SLA), based mainly in the southern province of Dafur.
various reports, May 2004

From the Aspirant Peoples flag chart:
23. "Imatong (Sudanese Peoples Liberation Front, SPLF) - South Sudan."
Horizontal black-red-green, fimbriated white. Light blue triangle at hoist, with a red star.
The Encyclopaedia Universalis says: "Civil war in the South of Sudan began in 1982-83, John Garang's movement is known as "Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), and wants to unite the country in a social and socialist fight for the benefit of both North and South of the country."
Ivan Sache, 12 Sept 1999

We have many southern Sudanese people here (Rochester, Minnesota, USA) who call their flag New Sudan.  It has 5 stripes like Kenya, black/white/red/white/green.  The blue triangle is blue and the star is yellow, not red, and pointing to the pole, away from the point of the triangle.
Lee L. Herold, 14 Sept1999

I believe that the first star was red and later (early 1990s) changed to yellow. I saw this flag with red star at side of Garang with red star, but many years ago.
Jaume Ollé, 17 Oct 1999

Sudan can be divided in two major ethnic-religious parts: in the North the Arab-Muslim population with the capital of Khartoum, in the South the black African Christian and animistic population. The Civil war broke out because of the South's resistance against the Northern government, the National Islamic Front (NIF), which wanted to impose the Islamic law on the whole country.
At there is a good summary of this conflict, and you find also information about the new conflict in the Darfur region.

A quotation from that site:
"Peace talks between the southern rebels and the government made substantial progress in 2003 and early 2004, although skirmishes in parts of the south have reportedly continued. The two sides have agreed that, following a final peace treaty, southern Sudan will enjoy autonomy for six years, and after the expiration of that period, the people of southern Sudan will be able to vote in a referendum on independence. Furthermore, oil revenues will be divided equally between the government and rebels during the six-year interim period. The ability or willingness of the government to fulfull these promises has been questioned by some observers, however, and the status of three central and eastern provinces remains a point of contention in the negotiations."

The liberation movements in South Sudan don't have the same aims concerning the status of autonomy. e.g. the SSLM ( ) pursues full independency whereas reports voices that still hope for a democratic *and* united Sudan. It is also mentioned there a SPLA/M manifesto from 1983 in which the unity of the country is maintained as a goal but for today there is reported a vast majority in the SPLA/M who aims for independence. However there seems to be still a certain partition about this question within the SPLA/M, for the AFP news agency reports a pro-Sudan manifestation in Khartoum, organized by the African National Union, an association close to the SPLA/M. There was also displayed the "Rebel flag" for the first time in Khartoum, see

So this "Rebel flag" or "New Sudan Flag" is used now by all parties in the South, be they for independence or just an autonomous status within Sudan. I think if South Sudan should become independent, this flag has good chances to become its national flag.

We can see that the "New Sudan Flag" is derived from the old SPLA/M flag; just the colour of the star changed from red to yellow. In an off-list message Jaume Ollé gave me background information which could shed light on that change. He wrote that after the fall of the Soviet-Union the leadership of the originally pro-communist movement widened its political spectrum and looked for American help. The change of the colour of the red star could be a consequence of this new orientation. Jaume reported also to have found in the web a photo of the red star flag which had been digitally changed to a yellow star flag. It seems that the yellow-star flag is not a new variant *beside* the old flag, but should replace it. This would mean a major propaganda success for the SPLA/M which could impose its party flag on the whole South Sudan. The SPLM (Sudanese People's Liberation Movement) is the civil arm of the SPLA (Sudanese People's Liberation Army).

There are some notions subsumed as "various reports" which seem a bit strange to me. It's said that on some websites the "New Sudan Flag" is called "The Christian flag of Sudan". This is new to me and I'd like to know the source for this remark. I hope it's not derived from my message in which I attached photos showing Sudanese Christians waving the Christian Flag together with the "New Sudan Flag"? The description of the yellow star as "Star of Bethlehem" doesn't make this flag a "Christian flag", all the more the Star-of-Bethlehem story is perhaps an individual interpretation. Another thing: the formulation "The movement name is nowdays ... the Sudan Liberation Movement and its military wing, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLM/SLA), based mainly in the southern province of Dafur" is misleading because it suggests that SLM/A is just a new name for SPLM/A. In fact these are two different organizations. The SLM/A was founded in the Darfur region when the conflict broke out there in 2003. The SPLM/A still exists as liberation movement for the South. And Darfur shouldn't be described as "Southern province" but as Western or South-Western province lest it isn't confounded with the whole South Sudan. You can find links to both organizantions at
Martin Karner18 July 2004

[South Sudan became an independent country on 09 July 2011 - Ed]


Image by Jaume Ollé, 03 Mar 1996
Image by Jaume Ollé, 03 Mar 1996

Image by Ivan Sache, 12 Sept 1999

From the Aspirant Peoples flag chart:
22. "Anya-Nya (Separatist movement, 1970's) - South Sudan."
Horizontal red-green-white-black-white-green-red, the black stripe being as high as all the other together.  The Encyclopaedia Universalis says: "The Anya-Nya guerilla began against the military regime of general Ibrahim Abboud (1958-1964) in the southern provinces of Bahr-el-Ghazal, Upper Nile and Equatoria. During the second military dictatorship of General Jaafar-al-Nimeyri (1969-1985), Joseph Lagu, former leader of the guerilla and member of the minority tribe Mandeli, was elected deputy in 1982."
Ivan Sache, 12 September 1999

South Sudan Independence Movement a.k.a. Movement of Riak Machar

Image by Jaume Ollé, 19 Nov 1996

General Riak Machar give his name to a movement that was formed in August 1991 as a break-away from the Sudan People's Liberation Army.
Jaume Ollé, 19 Nov 1996

Background on the group: Southern Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM).
Aliases: Movement of Riak Machar, Southern Sudan Independence Army, Southern Sudan Independence Movement/Army (SSIM/A), Sudan People's Liberation Army United (SPLA United).
Founding Philosophy: The Southern Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) was a militant rebel army in southern Sudan opposed to the Khartoum government, which is perceived to favor the minority northern Arab Muslim population over the southern Sudanese animist/Christian people. SSIM fighters were mainly of Nuer descent and came from the oil-rich region of the Upper Nile. This organization focused on conducting combat operations against the Sudanese military, though at times it resorted to terrorist tactics against non-combatant targets, as seen in its 1995 kidnapping of 12 Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) workers.

Originally called the SPLM/A-United, the SSIM was created by Dr. Riak Machar in August 1991 when it split from John Garang's mainly ethnic-Dinka Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) over philosophical differences. As their names would suggest, the SPLA envisioned a unified and democratic Sudan as their goal, whereas the SSIM faction was willing to secede from Sudan if the government would not meet their demands for equal treatment. Ironically, it was the SSIM that would merge with government forces in April 1996, when Khartoum and six rebel groups from the south, including the SSIM, signed a peace agreement. In April 1997, the agreement was formalized in the Sudan Peace Agreement, which created the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF), a political body that served to merge elements of the militant groups into the government and internal security forces of the state. The military wing of this body, used to patrol Southern Sudan on behalf of the government, was called the Southern Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF) and was led by Machar. In August 1997, the Khartoum government appointed Machar to the Presidency of the Coordinating Council of the Southern States and Assistant of the President of the Republic, a cabinet-level position.

Current Goals: The SSIM never recovered from Machar's decision to integrate into the government, and for all intents and purposes, became inactive after it merged into the SSDF, though some ex-SSIM fighters have since merged into both anti- and pro-government forces in Southern Sudan.
Further information at:
Esteban Rivera, 09 Mar 2006


Image by Jaume Ollé, 19 Nov 1996

The Lado territory was a British possession which the British government rented to the Congo Free State in 1894. It was returned to Sudan in 1910. The Bari people in Lado have demanded independence for the territory and have adopted this flag.
Jaume Ollé, 19 Nov 1996

My 'Allers Illustrerede Konversations-Leksikon' from 1906-10 (third volume, K-Me: 1908) says about Lado:

"Trade station in Eastern Sudan [This is 'Sudan' in the old meaning. Today, 'Sahel' would be used instead] on the White Nile [Bahr-el-Djebel]. Built 1874 by the well-known Gordon Pasha, and was the most important station in Egyptian Sudan; after the Mahdi's revolt, it was completely cut off from Egypt 1885; now, leased from England, a part of the Congo State."
Ole Andersen, 12 Aug 2000

There's more:
1909 - Lado enclave ceded by Belgium from Congo to the Sudan
1912 - Southern half of Lado enclave ceded from the Sudan to Uganda as W. Nile province: Bari-Lotuka area ceded to the Sudan
Source: Freeman-Grenville, 'Chronology of African History', 1973

Lado Enclave: A territory on the West bank of the Nile river north of Lake Albert, now in Uganda and in south east Sudan; 15.000 square miles; explored by British 1870 and later, and claimed for Great Britain 1894; leased to Belgium 1894-1910. Chief town was Lado, on the Nile just south of Mongalla, Sudan.
Source: Webster's New geographical Dictionary, 1988
Jarig Bakker, 12 Aug 2000

National Democratic Alliance

Image by Steve Stringfellow, 06 May 1998

A referendum in the south of Sudan, once the borders are established, could spell a new flag of a new nation.
Steve Stringfellow, 06 May 1998 

Nile State, c. 1970

Image by Jaume Ollé, 05 Sep 1998

The Nile State (provinces of Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile) self proclaimed state in Southern Sudan used (communication from Francois Chaurel, in "Le Figaro", 25-6-69, and Karl Fachinger 26-8-71) a flag of red, black, green with with a device in center. But recently I received a photo in color from François Burgos, that show this flag but the lower stripe is clearly light blue instead green.
Jaume Ollé, 05 Sept 1998

Azania Liberation Front and South Sudan National Provisional Government

Image by Jaume Ollé, 03 Mar 1996

Azania was also a word used by leftist groups during the apartheid regime in South Africa as "local" name of new South Africa to be, however it seems to have been derived from Arab "al-zandjijja", meaning the land from the blacks.
Franc van Diest, 13 Jan 2000

There was some debate prior to 1994 as to whether the name of South Africa should be changed to Azania. However, the term is not originally from South Africa and actually refers to a part of East Africa in Tanzania.
Bruce Berry, 13 Jan 2000

For several centuries until the 11th century, Azania was used by Arab seafarers for that part of Eastern Africa, with which they traded. Azania refers to 'the land of the blacks' - compare with the Arab word for a black person 'zanj'.
Ole Andersen, 13 Jan 2000

In South Sudan and Northeast Congo there was (is) a tribe named 'Azande(h)' - which had nothing to do (as far as I know) with Azania / Zanj / Zanzibar. So instead of: 'Azanian' read (possibly): 'Azande Liberation Front'?
Jarig Bakker, 13 Jan 2000

South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM)

Image by Eugene Ipavec, 08 Mar 2006

Source: South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM) website
located by Mikhail Revnivtsev, 07 Mar2006.

Image by Eugene Ipavec, 08 Mar 2006

Umma Party

Image by Victor Lomantsov, 10 Mar 1996

From the Umma website:

The Sudanese Patriots who established Umma Party in February 1945 as the fist Popular Political Party, aimed at attaining the country’s independence from the Condominium Reign. The Umma Party is the Party of Sudanese Independence. It championed that cause until it became the basis for Sudanese consensus in 1955. (The country's Independence was announced in 1st Jan 1956). It bore the brunt of opposition to all the Dictatorial Regimes, which came to power through coup d'état. It drew the largest electoral votes in all the free General elections, which took place in the Sudan. It masterminded all the initiatives to arrive at a Great Compromise between North and South. It initiated the principle of making citizenship the basis for Constitutional Rights, the recognition of Religious and Cultural plurality in the Sudan, and a program to resolve the issues of Religion and Politics, Religion and State, on a basis which reconciles National unity and Religious loyalties. Currently the Umma Party is championing the cause of a negotiated Just Peace, and Democratic Transformation and so putting an end to the War and to Totalitarianism.
Elected (April 2003) President of Umma Party is Imam Al Sadig Al Mahdi.

See also: Flags of the Mahdi.
Victor Lomantsov, 10 Mar 1996


Image reconstructed from written description by Ivan Sache, 22 Feb 2001

Darfur is the westernmost part of Sudan, along the Chadian border. The major ethnic group is the Fur. According to "Nations Without States" the flag of the Fur national movement is a 1:2:1 horizontal tricolor of green, red and black, with a white crescent on the center stripe.
Ned Smith, 21 Feb 2001

Islamic Citizen's Association?

Image by Martin Grieve, 08 Dec 2007

Last week on the Sky News there was a report about British School teacher Gillian Gibbons' incarceration over the debacle of naming a teddy bear Mohammed. During some television footage of protesters in Khartoum (presumably outside of the Police station where Gibbons was being held) at least two flags of the same design were noticed being waved. These were green with a red-white-black border around the edges and therefore in the same colours of Sudan's National flag.
Martin Grieve, 08 Dec 2007

Though the event at which it was flown was described as a rally of an unnamed "Islamic citizen's association" that had bussed members into Khartoum to protest the outrage; it could be their flag.
Eugene Ipavec, 09 Dec 2007

Nuba Mountains United Front

Image by Eugene Ipavec, 31 Dec 2009

In the Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations - Ethnic and National Groups Around the World (Volume III) by James B.Minahan, the Nuba flag is described as follows:
"The Nuba national flag, the flag of the Nuba Mountains United Front, is a horizontal bicolor of pale green with two yellow hills centered and a yellow five-pointed star on the upper hoist."
Eugene Ipavec and Chrystian Kretowicz, 31 Dec 2009