Libya bans party formation based on religion, tribe | News | DW | 25.04.2012
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Libya bans party formation based on religion, tribe

Religion and ethnicity - two of the strongest forces in politics in Libya - have been banned as the basis for forming political parties, as the deadline for elections looms two months away.

Libya's transitional government has banned the formation of political parties based on religious, tribal or regional platforms, two months before the country is to hold its first elections since the ouster of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi.

Mohammed al-Harizy, spokesman for the National Transitional Council, said the government had passed the law Tuesday night in the interest of "national unity."

"Parties are not allowed to be based on religion or ethnicity or tribe," he said. Parties need a minimum of 250 founding members to be approved, while organizations need just 100.

NTC legal committee member Mustafa Landi said the law also states political parties and associations "cannot be an extension of a political party abroad or receive foreign funding."

It was not immediately clear how the law would affect the several parties already formed in the run-up to elections, including the Justice and Construction Party formed last month by members of the country's Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. Similar parties have emerged as the dominant political force in Egypt and Tunisia, Libya's two Arab Spring neighbors.

Libya's Muslim Brotherhood has said it will not directly contest elections in June, but that it would rather focus on social issues and development.

Ethnic divisions in Libya are also a strong driving force for politics, with tribal leaders in eastern Libya declaring semi-autonomy in March. Tribal violence has meanwhile plagued southern Libya, where ethnic Tabu leaders have threatened to declare independence.

Elections for a 200-member assembly tasked with writing a new Libyan constitution and forming a new government are due to take place by June 19.

acb/jm (AFP, Reuters)