OMDURMAN, SUDAN —
Sadiq al-Mahdi’s political career is one of the longest in modern Sudanese history, including two stints as prime minister. But amid an unprecedented upheaval that has seen mass street protests and a military coup, al-Mahdi says he will step away from partisan politics.
With a people-led revolution still rocking Sudan, former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi – the country’s last democratically elected leader – might be expected to jump back into the political horse race.
The 83-year-old leader has a reputation as a political survivor, and returned to Sudan in December from a year in self-imposed exile amid massive anti-government protests. But instead he says it’s time for him to have a different role.
Not only has his opposition Umma party declined to be part of any transitional government but, al-Mahdi himself says he will not run in any future elections.
“I will have no post in the transition, or in the coming elections. In fact, I am looking for a different career … I will stand down in such political, partisan, and executive roles,” he said.
A new era for Sudanese politics
The announcement, made in a wide-ranging interview for VOA, marks a new era for politics in Sudan.
Al-Mahdi has played a central role in Sudan’s political life for over a half century.
He was prime minister from 1966 to 1967, and again from 1986 until 1989, when he was ousted by an alliance of Islamists and the military led by former president Omar al-Bashir.
Bashir ruled for nearly 30 years and was accused of corruption and committing war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region.
The army ousted him in April after citizens across the country staged months of street protests against his rule.
The mass demonstrations continue today as protesters are demanding the Transitional Military Council hand power to a civilian government.