Sadiq al-Mahdi, Sudan’s long-time democracy advocate and Club de Madrid Member, dies aged 84

Sadiq al-Mahdi, Club de Madrid Member and former Prime Minister of Sudan (1966-1967, 1986-1989), has died in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates after weeks of battling COVID-19. The former Heads of State and Government at Club de Madrid and the Secretariat alike mourn his loss. 

Committed to defending Shared Societies, a promoter of interreligious and intercultural dialogue and very active in our efforts to bring homegrown democratic reforms to the MENA region, Sadiq al-Mahdi left a profound mark in the organization. He was also serving as a Club de Madrid Board Member since 2015, a position he held also throughout 2005-2007. 

The last Sudanese Prime Minister to have been elected democratically (1986-89), Sadiq al-Mahdi has always been a staunch supporter of free and fair elections in his country,  where democracy has found it hard to take root. 

Sadiq al-Mahdi briefly led Sudan’s government for the first time between 1966-67. After being ousted from government, he became an opposition leader. He was imprisoned on multiple occasions and had to go in exile for the first time in 1970. Upon his return in 1974, al-Mahdi continued to voice a firm opposition to Sudan’s Socialist one-party regime. 

The Club de Madrid Member and the moderate party he led, Umma, continued to advocate for democracy from the opposition during Omar al-Bashir’s rule that ended in 2019. Throughout this period he had to spend years in exile several times and ran for the presidential elections of 2010. 

The current transitional government, which resulted from the protests that forced the resignation of Omar al-Bashir, has called for a three day mourning period and ordered flags to be flown half-mast in all official buildings. All for a man that Sudan’s news agency has called “a unique figure in Sudanese politics and public life for more than 65 consecutive years”. 

A commitment to Shared Societies and interreligious dialogue

Sadiq al-Mahdi, who joined Club de Madrid in 2003, has been one of our most active Members, leaving an important imprint in the organization’s work on fostering Shared Societies and Preventing Violent Extremism through interreligious and intercultural dialogue. 

The former Prime Minister of Sudan was very involved in our programme ‘Support for Demoratic Reforms in the MENA Region’, which worked with local partners to discreetly nurture and facilitate the construction of discourse for democratic reform and development as early as 2007.

Al-Mahid joined our 2015 Policy Dialogue that created a #GlobalConcensus to prevent Violent Extremism and was involved in our efforts to build effective narratives against violent extremism

Sadiq al-Mahdi’s contributions were instrumental in building our Call to Action for Leadership to Build Shared Societies and participated in numerous discussions to devise policies towards economic development and social cohesion

He has participated in many of our past Policy Dialogues including its 2012 edition, Harnessing 21st Century Solutions. A Focus On Women; its 2014 edition, Democracy and Human Rights in Decline? A Call to Action; among other past activities.