Libya drops ban on religion-based parties

National Transitional Council amends law that banned parties based on religion, tribe or ethnicity in run-up to polls.

    Libya drops ban on religion-based parties
    Abdel Jalil's NTC last week said it had passed a law banning parties based on religious, tribal or ethnic lines [AFP]

    Libya has dropped a ban against political parties based on religion, tribe or ethnicity, an official said, after the law angered Islamist parties in the run-up to the first free election in June.

    The ruling National Transitional Council's judicial committee read out on Wednesday a set of new laws, including an amended version of one governing formation of parties, making no mention of the ban, which was announced last week.

    "This point has been dropped and so any party or political organisation will follow the law as it is now," Salwa Al-Dgheily, a member of the NTC judicial council, told Reuters news agency after an NTC meeting.

    Libyans vote in June to elect a national assembly for the first time since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Eighty of the 200 seats will go to political parties, with the rest reserved for independent candidates.

    Strong performance

    Last week the NTC said it had passed a law banning parties based on religious, tribal or ethnic lines. A new Islamist party viewed as a leading contender intimated that it would challenge the decision.

    Islamists have performed strongly in post-uprising elections in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco and they are also likely to do well in Libya, a socially conservative country.

    Political analysts say the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to emerge as Libya's most organised political force and an influential player in the oil-exporting state where Islamists, like all dissidents, were harshly suppressed during the 42 years of Gaddafi's dictatorial rule.

    Separately, officials said Libya had banned the "glorification" of the Gaddafi regime.

    "Glorification of Muammar Gaddafi, his regime, ideas and his children ... is punishable by a prison sentence," according to the text of a new law read out to reporters by an official.

    The new law threatens imprisonment of anyone who "offended the 17th February revolution, anyone who insults the Islamic religion or the state and its institutions", the official quoted the law as saying, referring to the start of Libya's uprising last year.

    Libya's NTC has already indicated the country will be run in accordance with Islamic law, though its exact place in the legal system will be settled only when a new constitution is written after the elections.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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