Muslim Brother picked to lead new Libya party

Muslim Brother picked to lead new Libya party

Libyan Islamists and independents have formed a new political party and elected a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood yesterday as its leader after a three-day conference, an AFP reporter said.

Mohammed Sawan, an ex-political prisoner under the regime of dead dictator Muammar Gaddafi who outlawed the formation of political parties as an act of treason, was elected Justice and Construction party leader by 51 per cent of those present.

“I have real mixed feelings because I was imprisoned under Gaddafi for my attempts to create a political party, and I am grateful to the people here who have placed their trust in me,” Sawan told AFP.

The meeting in the capital brought together hundreds of people keen to take part in the launch of the new party. Votes were taken on a wide range of issues, including the party’s name, by a show of hands.

The party’s programme is still under discussion, but Muslim Brothers, Islamists and independents came together for the conference with the shared aim of forming a “national party with an Islamic frame of reference.”

“We aim for diversity and a state of law where differences in opinion are respected,” Sawan said.

There may be no law governing the formation of political parties in the new Libya, but political associations and coalitions are forming at a rapid pace.

In a country where political organisations of any kind were banned for decades under the iron-fisted rule of Gaddafi, who was toppled and killed in last year’s popular uprising, these are crucial steps on the path to political development.

“Everything about this party is based on the democratic principle,” said Nizar Kawan, one of the conference’s organisers.

The actual process of voting moved some men present to discreet tears.

“We have created a new era in Libya by electing a party leader democratically,” said Khalil Sawalim, a UK-based rights activist.

Since the start of the so-called Arab Spring, elections in the region have benefited Islamists, including in Egypt, Libya’s neighbour to the east, and in Tunisia to the west.

Similar outcomes are expected in June when the north African nation, which often emphasises its all-Muslim and moderate identity, is due to elect a constituent assembly.

Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus