Ex-Sudan Prime Minister dies of COVID-19

NEWS DIGEST – Sudan’s former Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi and head of the opposition National Umma Party has died from a coronavirus infection at the age of 84.

The country’s last democratically elected prime minister died yesterday, three weeks after being hospitalised in the UAE.

According to Sudanese media, Al-Mahdi’s health had deteriorated after reportedly suffering from severe pneumonia brought on by the virus.

Al-Mahdi was overthrown in the 1989 coup that brought former long-time President Omar Al-Bashir to power. His moderate party went on to ally with Sudan’s pro-democracy uprising movement that ultimately led the military to remove Al-Bashir from power last April. He was also one of the staunchest opponents of Sudan’s recent warming of ties with Israel, which he dismissed as “an apartheid state” over its treatment of the Palestinians.

Sudan’s transitional military-civilian government has declared three days of national mourning. According to a statement by his party, Al-Mahdi’s body will arrive in Khartoum tomorrow morning with his funeral set take place in his home city of Omdurman, situated in Khartoum state, at the dome of his grandfather Imam Mohammad Ahmed Al-Mahdi where he will be buried.

Imam Mohammad Ahmad Al-Mahdi was a religious leader who proclaimed himself to be the Mahdi or “Rightly Guided One”, an eschatological figure in Islamic tradition whose Mahdist movement waged a successful war against Egyptian-Ottoman rule in Sudan in the second half of the nineteenth century.