Sadiq al-Mahdi, Sudan's last democratically elected prime minister and leader of the country's largest political party, died of COVID-19 Thursday in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates, his party said. He was 84.
His body arrived in Sudan for burial Friday morning, the National Ummah Party tweeted.
Thousands of Sudanese attended a funeral procession on Friday for the late premier, including members of Sudan's sovereign council and top government officials.
Al-Mahdi was taken to Abu Dhabi for treatment in early November.
It had announced al-Mahdi tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 29.
Sadiq Al-Mahdi. AP
Al-Mahdi was overthrown in a 1989 Islamist-backed coup that brought longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir to power. Al-Mahdi's party allied with Sudan's pro-democracy uprising that led the military to overthrow al-Bashir in April 2019.
Sudan has since been ruled by a transitional military-civilian government. Elections could possibly be held in late 2022.
Al-Mahdi was one of the staunchest opponents of Sudan's recent normalization of ties with Israel, which he dismissed as ``an apartheid state'' over its treatment of the Palestinians. He also accused President Donald Trump of being racist against Muslims and Black people.
Al-Mahdi was born in December 1935 in Khartoum's sister city of Omdurman. He was the great-grandson of Mohammad Ahmad al-Mahdi, a religious leader whose movement waged a successful war against Egyptian-Ottoman rule in Sudan in the second half of the 19th century.
He studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University. He was both a politician and a theologian and authored several books on Islamic law, democracy and Sudanese politics.
Al-Mahdi also served as prime minister in 1966-67 before a group of military officers led by Jaafar al-Nimeiri took over two years later and turned the country into a military dictatorship for nearly two decades. The veteran politician was jailed several times and went into self-exile for years