Libyans start to dream of political parties
Tripoli - As Libya's new leaders work on setting the country right and eliminating the last holdouts of Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists, budding politicians are looking forward to the planned elections.
"Our party is being formed," said Abdel Dayem al-Gharabli, a lawyer from Zawiyah, west of Tripoli, after lengthy talks in a cafe with a group of friends.
To be called the National Democratic Encounter, it aims to be broad-based, supporting the rule of law and respect for liberties, he said.
"But it would also be inspired by the moderate Islam that unites all Libyans," he said.
"We're starting from zero because Muammar Gaddafi banned any sort of political organisation in his "republic of the masses" where only the revolutionary committees were allowed," added Sadek Zarruk, an appeal court judge.
Since the uprising against Gaddafi’s rule that began on February 17, few new political groupings have been announced apart from the New Libya Party, formed in July by Libyans living in the United Arab Emirates.
Fighters in Benghazi, cradle of the revolt to topple Gaddafi, also set up an Alliance of the Youth of February 17, which could yet morph into a political party.
There is also a Libyan National Salvation Front in exile, while the Muslim Brotherhood is reported to have had many underground activists during Gaddafi’s rule.
Sadek Tuwir, a doctor in Gharabli's group, commented, "While we wait to see the Libyan political desert bloom with new parties, the Muslim Brotherhood seems best placed to claim a national presence".
Lawyer Hassan Hawissa agreed, saying that "despite the repression of Gaddafi’s regime the Brotherhood managed to maintain a network of loyalists working in secret."
UN envoy Ian Martin said on Monday in Tripoli the United Nations is ready to assist Libya's new authorities in their preparations for elections.
"The National Transitional Council has put assistance with the electoral process very high on the list of tasks where they seek United Nations assistance and so we have done a good deal of preparatory work," he said.
Martin said it was "too soon for details" on how the transition would unfold as decisions regarding the electoral system, the establishment of an electoral commission and other technical details have yet to be determined.
"The United Nations is certainly ready to move very fast in bringing the electoral expertise that can assist the authorities on moving on the timetable [for elections] that they have established."
The National Transitional Council which piloted the insurgency and has formed a provisional government, has drawn up a road map aimed at the election of an assembly to draft a new constitution within eight months of Libya being declared "liberated".
This would be put to a referendum, with legislative and presidential elections to follow a year later.
Western powers which backed the uprising say they are confident that a democratic Libya respecting human rights will emerge.
Analysts play down the importance of the different regions - Cyrenaica in the east, Tripolitania in the west and Fezzan in the south - as well as the multitude of tribes in Libyan society, predicting they will adapt to a democratic system.
"In complex situations there is a tendency to simplify, pitting east against west, tribes against the state, but that is an insult to Libya and the Libyans," Olivier Pliez, of France's National Centre for Scientific Research, commented recently.