Thousands come out for funeral of former Sudan PM al-Mahdi

Sadiq al-Mahdi died of coronavirus at the age of 84.

Virus Outbreak Sudan al-Mahdi
Virus Outbreak Sudan al-Mahdi

Thousands of Sudanese came out in the city of Omdurman for the funeral of the country’s last elected prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, who died of Covid-19.

Mr al-Mahdi’s body arrived earlier in the day from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, where he had been flown to receive medical treatment after testing positive for coronavirus in early November.

Mr al-Mahdi, who was the leader of the National Ummah Party, died on Thursday at the age of 84. Sudan has recorded more than 16,000 coronavirus cases, including 1,215 deaths.

Virus Outbreak Sudan al-Mahdi
There was a formal military procession at Khartoum International Airport where the plane carrying Sadiq al-Mahdi’s body arrived (Marwan Ali/AP)

Statesmen and military leaders, including the president of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, waited at Khartoum International Airport for the plane carrying Mr al-Mahdi’s body.

Dozens of military officers wearing protective face masks carried the coffin draped with the Sudanese flag and walked out of the airport in a formal military procession.

Thousands of worshippers, mostly men in white robes and turbans wearing protective masks, lined up outside the al-Mahdi family cemetery in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.

The family was to perform Muslim funeral prayers before placing the body into the ground.

Besides his supporters, attendees included members of his political party and followers of the Sufi religious order he led for decades.

Sudan Obit Al-Mahdi
Mr al-Mahdi served as prime minister twice from 1966 to 1967 and from 1986 to 1989 (AP)

Mr al-Mahdi 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.

Mr al-Mahdi served as prime minister from 1986 to 1989 before being overthrown by the military coup that brought long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir to power.

He also served as prime minister from 1966 to 1967.

Sudan’s transitional government announced three days of national mourning following Mr al-Mahdi’s passing.

Sudan has been ruled by a civilian-military transitional government since last year, following the uprising that forced the military to overthrow Mr al-Bashir.

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