The 84-year-old Mahdi died three weeks after being hospitalized in the United Arab Emirates. He was the last democratically elected prime minister in Sudan and was overthrown in 1989 in a military coup.
Leading Sudanese politician and former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi has died of a coronavirus infection three weeks after being hospitalized in the United Arab Emirates, according to family sources and the party’s statement on Thursday morning.
Mahdi, 84, was the last democratically elected prime minister in Sudan and was overthrown in 1989 in a military regime that brought in former president Omar al-Bashir.
The moderate Umma Party was one of the largest opposition parties under Bashir, and Mahdi remained in power even after Bashir’s overthrow in 1989.
Last month, al-Mahdi’s family said he had a Covid-19 test and was transferred to the UAE for treatment a few days after being hospitalized in Sudan.
In a statement, the Umma Party said Mahdi would be buried Friday morning in the Sudanese city of Omdurman.
Mahdi returned to Sudan in December 2018, following his independence for a year, just as protests over deteriorating economic conditions and Bashir’s regime weakened. His daughter Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, the deputy leader of the Umma Party, was among those arrested during the protests.
Although he has not yet been announced as the party’s new head, he has been a prominent party leader in political and media debates over the years.
Opposition groups were weakened under Bashir’s ten-year rule, and they rallied for power and military force during the Sudanese revolution, making the ongoing unity of the Umma Party crucial to maintaining a balance of power.
After the military forced Bashir out of power, Mahdi pushed for the transfer, warning during an interview with Reuters the dangers of the opposition and asking for the formation of a powerful Rapid Support Forces (RSF).