Sudan has declared three days of national mourning after ex prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi who died aged 84 from Covid-19 complications on Thursday.
The Transitional Council of Ministers said on Thursday flags will fly at half-mast at all state facilities, institutions and Sudanese embassies, as a mark of respect for the last democratically elected PM and leader of the Umma Party.
Mahdi, 84, was toppled in 1989 by a military coup led by ousted president Omar al-Bashir.
He was born to a political family in Abbasiya in Omdurman, a city on the western banks of the Nile river opposite the capital Khartoum. After the death of his father, Siddiq al-Mahdi, in 1961, he assumed the leadership of the Ansar Movement and United National Front, a coalition led by the Umma Party.
His great-grandfather Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi had founded the Mahdist Movement in 1881 which overthrew the Ottoman-Egyptian administration that had ruled Sudan since 1821. The movement would later be known as Ansar.
Sadiq al-Mahdi had a master’s degree in economics from Oxford University in 1957 and served as Sudan’s prime minister between 1966 and 1967 and from 1986 to 1989.
After his ouster, he remained a vocal opposition leader throughout the three decades of Bashir’s rule and threw his weight behind a mass protest movement that led to Bashir overthrow by the military in April 2019. The former president has been in jail after being found guilty of corruption. He is currently facing trial for his role in the 1989 coup.
The head of the Transitional Sovereign Council in Sudan, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said that the country has lost a national symbol and political leader who contributed to Sudan’s political life.
In a tweet, Gen Burhan said Mahdi had remained loyal throughout his life to his homeland and the people.
The head of delegation of the European Union to Sudan ambassador Robert van den Dool in his condolence message described Mahdi as a statesman who “showed the power of a strong will applied to a worthy cause”.
“Today is a sad day for Sudan. The European Union and its member states’ embassies express their sincere condolences to the people and government of Sudan, to the members and the supporters of the Umma National Party…
“Al Mahdi was a great statesman, religious figure, thinker and supporter of civilian, human rights, interfaith dialogue and democracy in Sudan. He was a friend of Europe, peace and the world. Through good times and bad, he showed the power of a strong will applied to a worthy cause. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the Sudanese people,” Mr van de Dool said.
Mahdi tested positive for Covid-19 on October 27. He was transferred to the United Arab Emirates for treatment on November 3.