Libya Drops Ban on Religious Parties
On Tuesday, Libya began the process of registering voters for constituent assembly elections scheduled for June. Last week, the National Transitional Council (NTC) decreed that political parties “based on religion or ethnicity or tribe” were not permitted. The law was criticized by Muslim Brotherhood- affiliated parties, as well as parties organized around regional or tribal issues, and was overturned on Wednesday by the NTC judicial council.
The law contradicted calls for federalism that have emerged from the oil-wealthy eastern regions. Opponents of federalism argue that federalist principles would only act further to divide the country. Isobel Coleman says that if Libya does not figure out how to distribute power and resources between the competing regions, the situation could be reminiscent of Iraq, where such disparities and divisions “helped push the country into civil war.” She added Libya has a weak civil society, is “awash” with weapons, and rebels continue to act outside the states control. Corruption continues to plague Libya and over 70,000 people have been internally displaced. Some have argued that the June elections should be postponed. Coleman says that postponing elections a few monts may be necessary to work out “technical issues” such as registration, but a longer delay would only make the situation worse.
Today, The NTC unveiled legislation granting immunity to former rebels who fought to remove Muammar Gaddafi from power. The immunity covers “military, security, or civilian acts undertaken by revolutionaries with the aim of ensuring the revolution’s success,” said the NTC. Gaddafi loyalists currently detained are to be tried in a court of law or released. Further legislation criminalized the “glorification” of Gaddafi or his ideas.
The Brookings Doha Center released a report entitled, “Libyan Islamists Unpacked: Rise, Transformation, and Future.” The report identifies the main islamist forces, points out issues facing the movements, and policy implications for the international community.