A former Sudanese president known for imposing Islamic law in the country died Saturday at the age of 79, the official news agency said.
Gaafar Numeiri became Sudan's president in 1969 and held the post for 16 years despite a coup attempt by the communist left in the early 1970s.
Numeiri imposed Islamic law, or Sharia, in the country in 1983, increasing tension with the south. Shortly thereafter, he dissolved the southern Sudanese government in violation of the 1972 peace accord, reigniting the civil war with the north that finally ended in 2005.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is Muslim, praised Numeiri in a statement Saturday as a "patriotic leader" whose establishment of Islamic law set "the basis for the rule of justice."