Al-Mahdi is the president of the moderate National Umma Party and the imam of the Al-Ansar Sufi order. He was Prime Minister of Sudan from 1966-67 and from 1986-89 before the government was overthrown and he was forced into exile. Al-Mahdi returned to Sudan in January 2017 and is working to restore peace and democracy in Sudan. He derives a significant portion of his authority from the fact that he descends from Muhammad Ahmad, who claimed to be the Mahdi. He is also the author of a number of scholarly works.