Gaafar Numeiri, 79, a former president of Sudan known for imposing Islamic law in the country, died yesterday, Sudan's official news agency said.

Mr. Numeiri became president in 1969 and held the post for 16 years despite a coup attempt by the communist left in the early 1970s.

He was also known for signing a peace accord in 1972 to end a rebellion by southern Sudan that started in 1955. The accord gave the mostly Christian and animist south a degree of autonomy from the mostly Muslim north.

But Mr. 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.

Mr. Numeiri was a close ally of the United States and the only Arab leader to support Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after he signed the 1978 Camp David Accords with Israel, which led to peace between the two countries.

Mr. Numeiri was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1985 while on an official visit to the United States. He lived in Egypt from 1985 until 1999, when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir allowed him to return. - AP