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State Funeral for Former Sudanese President

Thousands of Sudanese attended a state funeral for former president Jaafar Nimeiri, who led the country from 1969 to 1985. Mr. Nimeiri died Saturday, at age 79.

Sudanese soldiers carried Jaafar Nimeiri's flag-draped body from the presidential palace in Khartoum to a cemetery in Omdurman, the capital's sister city across the Nile river.

President Omar al-Bashir addressed a ceremony at a stadium in Omdurman.

May God bless him and may he rest in peace. He said Mr. Nimeiri would be remembered for bringing Islamic Sharia law to the country, and said he had built the foundations for modern Sudan.

A military officer who had studied at an army staff college in the United States, Colonel Nimeiri seized power from president Ismail Azhari in a coup in 1969, following the example of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The move had the backing of communist and socialist military officers, but he soon fell out with his supporters, embracing an alliance with the United States and surviving coup attempts by communist officers.

In 1972 he signed an agreement to end Sudan's first north-south civil war, which began in 1955. And in 1978, he broke with other Arab leaders in backing the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel.

While President Nimeiri had initially cracked down on Islamic activists, by 1983 he had embraced Islamism in an attempt to boost his popularity, which had suffered along with the country's economy. He introduced Islamic law in the country, including in the mostly non-Islamic south, helping to set off the second north-south civil war, which would last until 2005.

President Nimeiri was overthrown in a coup in 1985, while on a visit to the United States, and spent 14 years in exile in neighboring Egypt. President Bashir allowed him to return to Sudan in 1999 and he led an unsuccessful run for president in elections in 2000.

The Sudanese government said Mr. Nimeiri had long been suffering form an unspecified illness.