Sudan’s former prime minister and opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi dies of Covid-19

Sudan’s former prime minister and top opposition figure, Sadiq al-Mahdi, died of a coronavirus infection on Thursday, his party said.

The 84-year-old was the country’s last democratically elected prime minister before being overthrown in 1989 by the now sacked president Omar al-Bashir in an Islamist-backed military coup.

The leader of the moderate Islamist Umma party was transferred to the United Arab Emirates for treatment three weeks ago after being hospitalized in Sudan and tested positive for Covid-19.

“We regret the death of the Sudanese people,” the party said in a statement.

Mahdi was a strong opposition figure during Bashir’s long rule and threw his weight behind a mass protest movement that eventually led the military to overthrow the president last year.

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Since his removal, Bashir has been detained in Khartoum’s High Security Prison in Kober and convicted in December of corruption.

He is currently on trial in Khartoum for his role in the 1989 coup that brought him to power, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has charged him with alleged war crimes in the Darfur war that began in 2003.

If convicted, Bashir and his co-accused – including former top officials – could face the death penalty.

Sudan has so far registered almost 17,000 cases of coronavirus, including more than 1,200 deaths.