Anglo-Egyptian Sudan

The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan ( السودان الإنجليزي المصري ) was a condominium of the United Kingdom and Egypt in the eastern Sudan region of northern Africa between 1899 and 1956, but in practice the structure of the condominium ensured full British control over the Sudan with Egypt having local influence instead. It attained independence as the Republic of the Sudan, which since 2011 has been split into Sudan and South Sudan.

Until 1914, Egypt itself was nominally part of the Ottoman Empire. During the 19th century it gradually expanded its control of the Sudan as far south as the Great Lakes region. In 1881 the Mahdist revolt broke out in Sudan and in 1882 the British invaded Egypt. Egypt became a de facto protectorate of Britain and together British and Egyptian forces gradually re-conquered the Sudan. In 1899, they formally agreed to establish a joint protectorate: Egypt on the basis of its previous claims and Britain by right of conquest.

Between 1914 and 1922, the Sultanate of Egypt, and thus the Sudan, were formally a part of the British Empire. After Egyptian independence in 1922 as the Kingdom of Egypt, Britain gradually assumed more control of the condominium, edging out Egypt almost completely by 1924. Increasing Egyptian dissatisfaction with this arrangement came to a head after the overthrow of the Egyptian monarch in 1952. On 1 January 1956, Egypt and Britain ceded Sudan its independence.


Union with Egypt

In 1820, the army of Egyptian wāli Muhammad Ali Pasha, commanded by his son Ismail Pasha, Exercising the leverage which their military superiority provided, the British forced Abbas to accept British control in Sudan. Whereas British influence in Egypt was officially advisory (though in reality it was far more direct), the British insisted that their role in Sudan be formalised. Thus, an agreement was reached in 1899 establishing Anglo-Egyptian rule (a condominium), under which Sudan was to be administered by a governor-general appointed by Egypt with British consent. In reality, much to the revulsion of Egyptian and Sudanese nationalists, Sudan was effectively administered as a British imperial possession. Pursuing a policy of divide and rule, the British were keen to reverse the process, started under Muhammad Ali, of uniting the Nile Valley under Egyptian leadership, and sought to frustrate all efforts to further unite the two countries. During World War I, the British invaded and incorporated Darfur into the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in 1916.

This policy was internalised within Sudan itself, with the British determined to exacerbate differences and frictions between Sudan's numerous different ethnic groups. From 1924 onwards, the British essentially divided Sudan into two separate territories–a predominantly Muslim Arabic-speaking north, and a predominantly Animist and Christian south, where the use of English was encouraged by Christian missionaries, whose main role was instructional.

The continued British occupation of Sudan fuelled an increasingly strident nationalist backlash in Egypt, with Egyptian nationalist leaders determined to force Britain to recognise a single independent union of Egypt and Sudan. With the formal end in 1914 of the legal fiction of Ottoman sovereignty, Hussein Kamel was declared Sultan of Egypt and Sudan, as was his brother Fuad I who succeeded him. The insistence of a single Egyptian-Sudanese state persisted when the Sultanate was re-titled the Kingdom of Egypt and Sudan, but the British continued to frustrate these efforts.

The failure of the government in Cairo to end the British occupation led to separate efforts for independence in Sudan itself, the first of which was led by a group of Sudanese military officers known as the White Flag League in 1924. The group was led by first lieutenant Ali Abd al Latif and first lieutenant Abdul Fadil Almaz. The latter led an insurrection of the military training academy, which ended in their defeat and the death of Almaz after the British army blew up the military hospital where he was garrisoned. This defeat was (allegedly) partially the result of the Egyptian garrison in Khartoum North not supporting the insurrection with artillery as was previously promised.

Abrogation of the condominium

Even when the British ended their occupation of Egypt in 1936 (with the exception of the Suez Canal Zone), they maintained their forces in Sudan. Successive governments in Cairo, repeatedly declaring their abrogation of the condominium agreement, declared the British presence in Sudan to be illegitimate, and insisted on full British recognition of King Farouk as "King of Egypt and Sudan", a recognition which the British were loath to grant; not least because Farouk was secretly negotiating with Mussolini for an Italian invasion. The defeat of this damaging démarche of 1940 for Anglo-Egyptian relations helped to turn the tide of the Second World War.

It was the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 which finally set a series of events in motion which would eventually end the British and Egyptian occupation of Sudan. Having abolished the monarchy in 1953, Egypt's new leaders, Muhammad Naguib, who was raised as a child of an Egyptian army officer in Sudan, and Gamal Abdel Nasser, believed the only way to end British domination in Sudan was for Egypt itself to officially abandon its sovereignty over Sudan. Since the British claim to control in Sudan theoretically depended upon Egyptian sovereignty, the revolutionaries calculated that this tactic would leave the UK with no option but to withdraw. In addition Nasser knew that it would be problematic for Egypt to govern the impoverished Sudan.

Transition to independence

In 1943 a North Sudan Advisory Council was established bringing a level of self-governance to the northern provinces of Anglo Egyptian Sudan. At a conference held in Juba in 1947, it was decided to integrate the administration of the southern provinces with those of the north. Thirteen appointed representatives from the southern provinces took up seats in the Sudan Legislative Assembly in 1948.

In February 1953 an agreement was reached between Egypt, the United Kingdom and Sudanese political representatives for a transition from condominium rule to self-government. Sudan was granted self-government in March 1953 and Ismail al-Azhari became Chief Minister in 1954. A constituent assembly was formed and a transitional constitution was drafted. Sudanese representatives would be able to participate in the Afro-Asian Conference planned for April 1955.

In October 1954, the governments of Egypt and the UK signed a treaty that would grant Sudan independence on 1 January 1956. Sudan become an independent sovereign state, the Republic of the Sudan, 1 January 1956, bringing to an end its nearly 136-year union with Egypt and its 56-year occupation by the British.


Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was divided into eight provinces, which were ambiguous when created but became well defined by the beginning of World War II. The eight provinces were: Blue Nile, Darfur, Equatoria, Kassala, Khartoum, Kurdufan, Northern, and Upper Nile. In 1948, Bahr al Ghazal split from Equatoria.

Office holders


  • List of governors of pre-independence Sudan

    Chief Justices

  • 1903–1917 Wasey Sterry (until 1915 Chief Judge)
  • 1917–1926 Robert Hay Dun
  • 1926–1930 Sir Bernard Humphrey Bell
  • 1930?–1936? Howell Owen
  • 1936–1941 Thomas Percival Creed
  • 1941–1944 Sir Hubert Flaxman
  • 1944–1946 Cecil Harry Andrew Bennett
  • 1946–1947 Sir Charles Cecil George Cumings
  • 1947–1950 Thomas Arthur Maclagan
  • 1950–1955 William O'Brien Lindsay
  • 1955–1964 Mohamed Ahmed Abu Rannat

    Chief Ministers

  • 1952-1954 Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi
  • 1954-1956 Ismail al-Azhari