Sadiq al-Mahdi: Remembering the last democratically-elected prime minister of Sudan

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The late Sadiq al-Mahdi who died from Covid-19 was the last democratically-elected prime minister of Sudan. He dedicated his life to realizing a democratic Sudan.

The rise of the late Sadiq al-Mahdi occurred in the early 1960’s after the passing of his father, Al Siddiqi al-Mahdi who was the leader of the National Umma party, during the first military junta between 1958 and 1964.

Sadiq al-Mahdi became an influential figure in the opposition movement to that junta and thereafter was elected as prime minister; the youngest African prime minister at the age of 31 in 1966. Following that, he had a stint in office between 1966 and 1968.

When the second military junta came into power in 1969, al-Mahdi became a staunch opponent to the regime of General Jaafar Nimiery and between 1969 and 1977 he was in jail. Sadiq al-Mahdi went into exile, and then there was the National reconciliation agreement that occurred in 1977 after which Sadiq al-Mahdi joined the socialist union which was the then ruling party.

But by 1985 when Nimiery was ousted, al-Mahdi then won the elections of 1986 as the last elected prime minister in this country. It was General Omar al-Bashir in 1989 who made a coup and ousted Sadiq al-Mahdi. 

According to Mohanad Hashim, executive director for content at the Sudan Radio and Television Corporation, Sadiq al-Mahdi’s death comes at a crucial time for Sudanese politics.

“Over the last three decades, he’s been a staunch opponent for the totalitarian rule of former President Omar al-Bashir,” he said. “Al-Mahdi has led one of the largest political parties in the country and he will be sorely missed.”

“At a very critical time he was one of the elderly statesmen in this country and many people view him as the man of the nation,” Mohanad Hashim added.

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