Libyan Islamist Refuses to Concede Election
Mohammed Sawan, leader of the political wing of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters yesterday that Mahmoud Jibril, whose National Forces Alliance appears to have a lead in the first free election in decades, falsely represented himself as “having an Islamic reference,” and was actually the choice of former Gaddafi loyalists. Sawan insisted that once all the votes come in, his Justice and Construction Party may take the lead. Jibril sees himself as a potentially unifying figure, and in response to speculation that he may be Libya’s next president, has said that he “might play just a consultant role in that government. It is the effectiveness of the role that matters, not the role itself.”
Meanwhile, talks to release two journalists kidnapped while covering the election last Saturday have reportedly broken down. The Bani Walid militia who seized the two are demanding the release of detainees held by another militia in Misrata, who threatened to attack the Bani Walid group and forcibly release the journalists. National Transitional Council Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil said yesterday that the government will take “all necessary measures” to secure their release.
Karim Mezran writes in The Atlantic that, while Gaddafi is finally gone, Libya still has a long road to travel to reach democracy and a stable, unified state. According to Mezran, “a successful election is just the start of dealing with one of Libya’s most important challenges right now: national unity.” In The Guardian Oliver Miles writes that while Libya is still fragile, the elections, restoration of oil production, and Jibril’s conciliatory statements to so-called federalists in the east are all reasons to be optimistic. Finally, Carol J. Williams writes in the Los Angeles Times on the differences between Libya’s and Egypt’s experiences in the Arab Spring.