Sadiq al-Mahdi

Sadiq al-Mahdi
Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi 1964.jpg
al-Mahdi in 1964
7th Prime Minister of Sudan
In office
6 May 1986 – 30 June 1989
President Ahmed al-Mirghani
Preceded by Al-Jazuli Daf'allah
Succeeded by Bakri Hassan Saleh (2017)
In office
27 July 1966 – 18 May 1967
President Ismail al-Azhari
Preceded by Muhammad Ahmad Mahgoub
Succeeded by Muhammad Ahmad Mahgoub
Personal details
Born (1935-12-25)25 December 1935
Al-Abasya, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Died 26 November 2020(2020-11-26) (aged 84)
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Political party National Umma Party
Children Siddig, Bushra, Ribah, Mariam

Sadiq al-Mahdi (Arabic: الصادق المهدي‎, romanizedaṣ-Ṣādiq al-Mahdī; 25 December 1935 – 26 November 2020), also known as Sadiq as-Siddiq, was a Sudanese political and religious figure who was Prime Minister of Sudan from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1986 to 1989. He was head of the National Umma Party and Imam of the Ansar, a Sufi order that pledges allegiance to Muhammad Ahmad (1844–1885), who claimed to be the Mahdi, the messianic saviour of Islam.

Personal life

Sadiq al-Mahdi was born on 25 December 1935 in Al-Abasya, Omdurman, Sudan.[1][2]

He was the paternal grandson of Sayyid Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi, founder of the Umma Party,[3] and great-grandson of Muhammad Ahmad,[4] the Sudanese sheikh of the Ansar and Mahdi who led the Mahdist War to reclaim Sudan from Anglo-Egyptian rule. He was also the paternal uncle of Sudanese-British actor Alexander Siddig.[5]

Sadiq al-Mahdi married twice and had ten children, including a son named Siddig after his grandfather al-Imam al-Siddiq, born in 1968, who is now a leader in National Umma Party.[6] and a daughter, Mariam, who is the leader of the National Umma Party.[7]

Political life

Sadiq al-Mahdi was Prime Minister of Sudan on two occasions: first briefly in 1966–67 and second from 1986 until his ousting on 30 June 1989.[8]

First term as Prime Minister (1966–1967)

After the 1965 elections, a coalition government was formed between the National Umma Party and the National Unionist Party. Muhammad Ahmad Mahgoub of the Umma party became Prime Minister, and Ismail al-Azhari of the NUP became president. However, this coalition collapsed in October 1965 after the two parties failed to agree on control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In July 1966, Prime Minister Mahgoub resigned after a parliamentary vote of censure.[9]

Sadiq al-Madi in 1987

Mahgoub's resignation split the Umma party into two factions: the opposition faction was led by Mahgoub and endorsed by Sadiq's uncle, the Imam al-Hadi al-Mahdi, while Sadiq led the faction that was willing to work with the NUP. As Sadiq's faction was larger, he became Prime Minister with NUP support. He supported regional development and greater autonomy for the southern provinces. These proposals were unpopular with many educated Sudanese civilians and army officers. In May 1967, Sadiq lost the support of his coalition partners, and Mahgoub returned as Prime Minister in a coalition with the National Unionist Party and the People's Democratic Party. In the 1968 elections, Sadiq's faction won more seats then Mahgoub's faction, but Sadiq lost his own seat to a candidate from Mahgoub's faction.[10]

In the opposition (1967–1986)

Jaafar Nimeiry took power in Sudan through a coup on 25 May 1969. After the attack on Aba Island in March 1970,[9] Sadiq was imprisoned repeatedly by Nimeiry, finally going into exile in 1974.[2] From abroad, Sadiq formed an opposition organization known as the National Front. In 1977, Sadiq and Nimeiry negotiated an agreement that freed 1000 political prisoners, granted amnesty to Sadiq, allowed nonpartisan opposition candidates in Parliament, and planned further democratic reforms. Sadiq then returned and started forming an opposition to Nimeiry's Sudanese Socialist Union.[9]

Second term as Prime Minister (1986–1989)

After the 1986 elections, Sadiq formed a coalition government comprising the Umma Party (which he led); the National Islamic Front (led by his brother-in-law, Hassan Al-Turabi); the Democratic Unionist Party (led by Mohammed Uthman al-Mirghani al-Khatim); and four small Southern parties. However, this coalition proved to be unstable, preventing Sadiq from delivering on his promises to end the Second Sudanese Civil War and fix the ongoing economic crisis.[9] On 30 June 1989, his government was overthrown in a coup led by Brigadier Omar al-Bashir. The post of Prime Minister of Sudan was then abolished.[11]

1989 coup and afterwards

Mahdi in 2015

Sadiq continued to lead the Umma Party in like Omer Bashir after being ousted.[12][13] He spent a period in exile, but eventually returned to Sudan in November 2000.[13] As a former head of government, he joined the Club of Madrid.[2]

He ran unsuccessfully for the 2010 presidential elections, pledging not to hand Bashir to the International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes on the grounds that it would destabilise the country.[14] In 2014, the government alleged that Sadiq had collaborated with rebels, forcing him to flee to Egypt. He eventually returned to Khartoum on 26 January 2017.[15]

In April 2019, Bashir was himself ousted by a coup after months of mass protests.[16] Sadiq affirmed his party's support for the protests and confirmed that they would not be part of any future civilian transitional government. He also opined that Sudan should join the International Criminal Court and hand over Bashir to face charges.[17] In May 2019, Sadiq announced his retirement from electoral politics.[18]


On 26 November 2020, Sadiq died of complications from COVID-19, after being admitted to a hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for nearly a month.[19]

Publishing career

He was the author of a variety of scholarly and political books, including The Southern Question (1964); Speeches in Exile (1976); Questions on Mahadism (1979); Legitimate Penalties and Their Position in the Islamic Social System (1987); Democracy in Sudan: Will Return and Triumph (1990); Challenges of the Nineties (1991).[2]


See also


  1. ^ "السيرة الذاتية". (in Arabic).
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Sadig Al-Mahdi". Club De Madrid. 12 September 2007. Archived from the original on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
  3. ^ Gabriel Warburg (2003). Islam, sectarianism, and politics in Sudan since the Mahdiyya. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 171. ISBN 0-299-18294-0.
  4. ^ Gamal Nkrumah (21 July 2004). "Sadig Al-Mahdi: The comeback king". Al-Ahram. Archived from the original on 23 January 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  5. ^ Gayle Stever (1998). "Sid's Biography".
  6. ^ "مريم الصادق المهدي: هذه ليست حكومة كفاءات بل "كفوات"". France 24 (in Arabic). 19 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Mariam Al Mahdi: Revolutionary 'Kandake' as Sudan's Top Diplomat".
  8. ^ Staff (26 November 2020). "Sudan's last democratically elected PM dies from COVID-19". Reuters. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d Ofcansky, Thomas P. (2015). "Historical Setting". In Berry, LaVerle (ed.). Sudan: A Country Study (PDF) (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 1–58. ISBN 978-0-8444-0750-0.
  10. ^ Metz, Helen Chapin, ed. (1991). "Return to Civilian Rule, 1964-69". Sudan: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: GPO for the Library of Congress – via
  11. ^ "FACTBOX – Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir". Reuters. 14 July 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
  12. ^ Lydia Polgreen and Jeffrey Gettleman (28 July 2008) "Sudan Rallies Behind Leader Reviled Abroad", The New York Times.
  13. ^ a b Political Parties of the World. 6th edition, 2005, Bogdan Szajkowski (ed.), John Harper, ISBN 0955114403, p. 113.
  14. ^ Maram Mazen (1 February 2010) Sudanese Candidate Al-Mahdi Wouldn’t Hand Over Bashir to ICC. Bloomberg
  15. ^ "Sudanese opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi returns from two-year exile", Reuters, 26 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Omar al-Bashir: Sudan military coup topples ruler after protests", BBC, 11 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Opposition leader denies Bashir ouster was 'military coup', calls for Sudan to join ICC". France 24. 27 April 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  18. ^ "Sudan's Last Democratically-Elected Leader Retiring From Politics | Voice of America - English". Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Sudan mourns former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi". Africanews. 26 November 2020.

External links

  • Helen Chapin Metz, ed., "Umma Party", Sudan: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1991.
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Sudan
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Sudan
Title next held by
Bakri Hassan Saleh