Libya Attempts to Ban Islamist Parties from June Elections
The National Transitional Council (NTC) issued a law banning the formation of parties based on religious principles. The law was introduced two months before general elections to choose a 200 member constituent assembly and forming a government. Members of the NTC have also supported motions stipulating that parties cannot receive funding from abroad.
NTC spokesman Mohammed al-Hareiszi said the law was designed to “preserve national unity.” “Parties shouldn’t be based on ethnic or religious ideologies,” he said, “we don’t want the government to be divided by these ideological differences.” The Muslim Brotherhood denounced the move as undemocratic and said that it was implemented to benefit the more liberal parties.
Andrew Engel of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy writes that Libya’s upcoming elections will need more U.S. support. He writes that only elections can improve the security situation facing the country. Engel describe the failure of the NTC to facilitate a transition, pointing out their failures in operating basic services and state institutions. By mismanaging the transition, Engel believes that the NTC has persuaded the rebels against disarming resulting in groups operating autonomously. Engel argues against postponing the election saying that it is impractical and that any delay “will only prolong Libya’s state of stasis.” “Full rebel integration requires a level of legitimacy that only elections can offer,” says Engel. Engel recommends the U.S. offer assistance in making the elections transparent, effective, and inclusive. He suggests coordinating with the U.N. and NATO states, partnering with civic actors, sending election monitors, and setting up electoral dispute mechanisms.