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Offbeat Former Prime Minister of Sudan, Sadeq Al-Mahdi is dead

22:45  26 november  2020
22:45  26 november  2020 Source:   lemonde.fr

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Al - Mahdi was Sudan ’s last democratically elected prime minister and was overthrown in 1989 in the military coup that brought former President Omar al-Bashir to power. The moderate Umma Party was one of the largest opposition parties under al-Bashir, and al - Mahdi remained an influential figure even

Sudan ’s former prime minister and top opposition figure Sadiq al - Mahdi died from a coronavirus infection on Thursday, his party said. Issued on: 26/11/2020 - 06:25. Sadiq al - Mahdi was Sudan 's last democratically elected prime minister before he was toppled in a 1989 coup © Yasuyoshi Chiba

The last leader of the Sudanese political class of the independence generation, he twice held the position of number one in government. Leader of the Mahdist movement, he died on November 26 at the age of 84.

L’ancien premier ministre du Soudan, Sadeq Al-Mahdi , le 1er mai 2019, à Omdourman. © Provided by Le Monde Former Prime Minister of Sudan, Sadeq Al-Mahdi, on May 1, 2019, in Omdurman.

Will he be the last imam of Mahdism? Sadeq Al-Mahdi, who was twice Prime Minister of Sudan and political-spiritual leader of the Mahdist movement, died Thursday, November 26 in the United Arab Emirates. He had been hospitalized in Abu Dhabi for a few days after contracting the coronavirus.

This 84-year-old man, born in 1935, was the last leader of the Sudanese political class to embody the generation of the country's independence, acquired in 1956. Great-grandson of Mohammed Ahmed, the religious leader and Mahdi ( the Well-Guided) self-proclaimed who had taken the head of a founding revolt in the history of contemporary Sudan by driving out the Egyptian and British occupiers of the country in 1885, grandson of Abdel Rahman Al-Mahdi, founder of the Umma party , who embodies the political heritage of Mahdism, Sadeq Al-Mahdi wore the red beard of the pious, in the manner of the Prophet. In addition to his functions at the head of the Umma party, Sadeq Al-Mahdi held the office of imam of the Ansar (the partisans), the brotherhood which follows the path of the Mahdi, whose members are recognized by their jibba (cotton tunic) with multicolored panels.

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Sadiq al - Mahdi , Sudan ’s last democratically elected prime minister and leader of the country's largest political party, has died of COVID-19 in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates, his party said. Al - Mahdi was taken to Abu Dhabi for treatment in early November.

Sudan 's former prime minister and top opposition figure Sadiq al - Mahdi died from a coronavirus infection on Thursday, his party said. Sadiq al - Mahdi was Sudan 's last democratically elected prime minister before he was toppled in a 1989 coup.

Hundreds of thousands of Ansar gathered at dawn on Thursday, barely hearing the news of Sadeq Al-Mahdi's death, in Oumderman, where the Mahdi's mausoleum is located. The Sudanese government has declared three days of national mourning, an exceptional measure that reveals the character's importance in religious, social and political life in Sudan.

Modern education

But alongside his traditional functions, Sadeq Al-Mahdi received a very modern education. Trained in law at the University of Oxford, he returned to his country shortly after the death of his grandfather, Abdel Rahman, in 1959. In conflict with his uncle Al-Hadi, who had taken the head of the party, Sadeq, who incarnates a more modernist and urban line, operates a split in 1965. The following year, he becomes Prime Minister, at only 31 years old, but is overthrown in 1967 by maneuvers of apparatus in Parliament.

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Sadig al - Mahdi , the Sudanese prime minister who was overthrown by dictator Omar al-Bashir and later became the African nation’s most prominent opposition leader, has died. He was 84. Al - Mahdi died early Thursday in the United Arab Emirates, where he’d traveled for treatment after contracting

Sadiq al - Mahdi , Sudan ’s last democratically elected prime minister and leader of the country’s largest political party, has died of COVID-19 in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates. Al - Mahdi was one of the staunchest opponents of Sudan ’s recent normalization of ties with Israel, which he dismissed as

After General Nimeiry's coup d'état, which put an end to democratic life, in 1969, Sadeq Al-Mahdi was imprisoned, while his uncle was killed in fighting in 1970, along with several thousand of his supporters on the island of Aba, cradle of Mahdism on the White Nile. Released in 1974, Sadeq Al-Mahdi went into exile in Colonel Gaddafi's Libya. He returned to Sudan in 1977 at the invitation of Jaafar Nimeiry, who attempted a rapprochement with the opposition. But the regime’s increasingly Islamist orientation, under the influence of local Muslim Brotherhood leader Hassan Al-Turabi, convinces it to once again enter into opposition. He is once again imprisoned. When Nimeiry was overthrown in 1985 by a popular uprising, Sadeq Al-Mahdi emerged as the winner of his journey through the desert.

Winner of the free elections of 1986 at the head of the Umma party, he was proclaimed prime minister. But his mandate is marred by rapid disillusionment. He is unable to end the civil war that has resumed with the South, animist and Christian. On the contrary, he is arming tribal militias to supplement the army, who commit terrible abuses there.

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Sadiq al - Mahdi was Sudan ’s last democratically elected prime minister before he was toppled in a 1989 coup.

Sadiq al - Mahdi was Sudan ’s last democratically elected prime minister before he was toppled in a 1989 coup.

Turnarounds

Likewise, it does not abolish Sharia law, merely ending executions and corporal punishment. Sadeq Al-Mahdi is constantly torn between his modernist ambitions and his status as a traditional religious leader. In the name of their past ties, Muammar Gaddafi believes himself authorized to interfere in Darfur, which he demands to be reunited with Libya, lastingly destabilizing this immense deprived region. Finally, the floods of 1988 ruined the country.


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In Khartoum, Omar Al-Bachir tried for his coup d'état in 1989

It is therefore a exhausted and fragile government which was overthrown on June 30, 1989 by the coup d'etat of General Omar Al-Bachir, concealed behind the scenes by the Islamist Turabi, yet son-in-law of Sadeq Al-Mahdi. Once again imprisoned and then in exile, Sadeq Al-Mahdi therefore militates for a return to democracy in Sudan. He alternates between periods of radical opposition, moving closer to armed groups, then attempts to reconcile with power. These reversals are eroding its political base and favoring the splits of the Umma party, which is more and more fractured and contested.

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In the second half of the 2010s, Sadeq Al-Mahdi agrees to participate in a national dialogue with the regime, which promises a transition, but does not concede anything on the substance. The spring 2019 revolution takes the old Ummah leader by surprise and throws him back into the camp of those who have, if not collaborated, at least been tempted to compromise with Omar Al-Bashir, overthrown by his army on April 11. Since then, he has repeatedly pleaded for a compromise between civilians and the military in the management of the country, drawing sharp criticism from the young activists behind the 2019 revolution and from the Communist Party.

For the moment, no one knows who will succeed him as Imam of the Ansar, nor as leader of the Umma party.

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