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Former Somali PM Dies of Coronavirus in London

Somalia's former Prime Minister Nur Hussein Hassan speaks during the opening ceremony of peace talks between Somalia's opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) and the government in Djibouti, Jan. 25, 2009.

Former Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein has died of coronavirus at a London hospital, the family told VOA’s Somali service.

Relatives of the former prime minister, popularly known as Nur Adde, confirmed his passing. A family member said Nur Adde died at around 5:00 a.m. Wednesday. He was 82.

Nur Adde was prime minister between November 2007 and February 2009. During his term, he was credited with leading peace talks between the Ethiopia-backed government and Eritrea-based rebels. The talks, held in Djibouti, led to the formation of a unity government in which the leader of the rebels, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was elected as Somalia’s president on January 30, 2009.

Nur Adde competed against Ahmed in the election but lost.

Prior to entering politics, he served as secretary general of the Somali Red Crescent for 17 years.

Nur Adde also served in the Somali police department, where he rose to the rank of colonel during the government of Mohamed Siyad Barre.

In a statement, the family said Nur Adde will be buried in London.

In Mogadishu, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo announced three days of national mourning, during which flags will be flown at half-staff.

Members of the Somali communities in Britain and in Sweden have been severely affected by the coronavirus. Community leaders have blamed lack of awareness, crowded housing and a close-knit community for spreading the ailment. Fourteen Somalis in Britain and six in Sweden have died of the infection. They include a 13-year-old boy in Britain.