Libya allows religion-based parties

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

Members of the ruling National Transitional Council's judicial committee on Wednesday read out an amended version of a law governing the formation of political parties, making no mention of the ban, which was announced last week.

"This point has been dropped and so any party or political organization will follow the law as it is now," Salwa Al-Dgheily, a member of the NTC judicial council, said.

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

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

Islamists have performed strongly in post-uprising elections in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco and will likely do well in Libya, a socially conservative country where alcohol was already banned before the 2011 revolution.

Analysts say the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to emerge as Libya's most organized political force and an influential player in the oil-exporting state where Islamists were harshly suppressed during the 42 years of Gadhafi's dictatorial rule.

(Source: Ottawa Citizen)

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