"Mr. Al-Mahdi was elected president of the Umma party in November 1964, and led a campaign to promote political activity, develop political Islam, and reform the party by expanding its base and promoting democracy behavior. Despite his efforts towards a democratic government, there was a coup d´état in 1969 that led to a dictatorship referred to as the May Regime.
"He was soon arrested by the military government and exiled to Egypt. While in exile, he formed the National Democratic Front (NDF). Through his efforts, the NDF was able to make an accord of national reconciliation in 1977 with the May Regime that mandated democratic reform. The accord had little effect, and Mr. Al-Mahdi continued his democratization efforts despite his arrest in 1983. He was released in December 1984, and led the opposition from within that drove the revolution of April 1985. He was soon elected President of Umma and won the general elections for the Prime Minister of Sudan in 1986, a position he retained until the government was overthrown in 1989.
"After being detained, imprisoned and tortured, Al-Mahdi went into exile to lead the opposition in 1996, but returned to Sudan in 2000. In 2002 he was elected as the Imam of ALANSAR and in 2003 was re-elected President of Umma and signed the Cairo Declaration for peace and democratic transformation with the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The Khartoum Regime initially welcomed but later refused to implement the Declaration. Currently, he continues his mobilization efforts to restore peace and democracy to Sudan, and to solve the dialectic between modern life and religious revival in the Muslim World." 
He attended the 2008 conference of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation & Political Violence.
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- High Level Advisory Board, East West Institute, accessed February 26, 2008.