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

In a statement, the Umma Party said that Mahdi would be buried on Friday morning in the city of Omdurman in Sudan.

Al-Mahdi was taken to Abu Dhabi for treatment in early November.

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

After the military forced Bashir out from power, Mahdi pushed for a transfer to civilian rule, warning in interviews with Reuters of the risks of a counter-coup and calling for the powerful, paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to be integrated.

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

Sudan has been ruled by a civilian-military transitional government since a year ago, following the uprising that forced the military to overthrow Mr al-Bashir. 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 U.S. President of being racist against Muslims and Black people.

Mahdi was born on 25 December, 1935, in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, the former Mahdist capital, and grew up in the last two decades of British imperial rule.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which spearheaded last year’s uprising against al-Bashir, mourned al-Mahdi as “an inspiring leader”.

Educated by Italian missionaries and later at Britain’s Oxford University, he worked in the Finance Ministry, eventually won a parliamentary seat and had a brief taste of power when he became prime minister in July 1966 aged 30.

The two-time prime minister who was a central figure in Sudan’s political and spiritual life for more than half a century was being treated in the United Arab Emirates.

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