Sudan: Toward Democracy

To many Sudanese Moslems, Mohammed Ahmed was more than a national hero. He was El Mahdi—the Messiah—legendary descendant of the Prophet and leader of the Whirling Dervishes, who massacred the British at Khartoum in 1885, breaking 65 years of foreign occupation.

El Mahdi's legend lives on. Victorious in the Sudan's first free elections after six years of military rule was his 29-year-old great-grandson, Sadik el Mahdi, a tall (6 ft. 3 in.), bearded economist who took honors at Oxford. In a conservative electoral sweep, El Mahdi's Umma (Nation) Party won the biggest block of seats in the new National Assembly, which...