Born in 1938, Mahdi was a key signatory of the historic 1990 Manifesto that called for Siyad Barre to relinquish power.
General Mohammed Farah Aidid, a leader of USC military wing, had objected to the initial nomination of Ali Mahdi as Interim President in July 1991 in Djibouti where the reconciliation conference was held for representatives of Somalia’s armed opposition groups.
The election of General Aidid as the Chairman of United Somali Congress at Guled Hotel in Mogadishu intensified the power struggle that culminated in a three-month battle in Mogadishu between forces loyal to General Aidid and President Mahdi.
In January 1992 the United Nations brokered talks in New York between representatives from the two warring USC factions, and in 1993 in Mogadishu the UN organised a meeting between Ali Mahdi and General Aidid.
After the death of General Aidid in 1996, Ali Mahdi’s political clout in the then divided capital of Somalia waned.
In 2007 he chaired a reconciliation conference organised by the former Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.
He did not sit on the sidelines in Somali politics, however. From time to time he commented on the electoral deadlock.
Politically, Ali Mahdi viewed the federal system as divisive and cumbersome.
The President of Somalia Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed and Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble have sent a message of condolence to the family of the former Somali leader.
“The Somali flag will fly at half-mast for three days” said President Mohammed in a televised statement.
This article first appeared in the © Puntland Post, 2021 and is republished with permission