1st political party formed in Benghazi

2011-07-27 10:16

Benghazi - Libyan expats on Tuesday became the first to take a stab at forming a political party in Benghazi, headquarters of the widely recognised National Transitional Council and stronghold of rebels fighting to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"We call ourselves the New Libya Party because everything was destroyed," said Ramadan Ben Amer, 53, a co-founder of the party, which is the offshoot of an online news website that he helped launch in late February to support the revolution.

"Gaddafi says he has built Libya brick by brick but, especially Benghazi, he has destroyed it brick by brick," Ben Amer told AFP hours before presenting his party at the Uzu Hotel.

He said that of the 2 000 individuals who have joined the party in Libya so far, the majority hail from his native Benghazi or Derna, the hometown of co-founder Rajad Mabruk, 65, who lives in Dallas, Texas.

New Libya, he added, also has some 20 000 supporters among Libyan expats living in the United States, Canada and Germany.

A California-educated petrochemical engineer, Amer said the party envisions a federal democracy with a clear constitutional divide among the executive, legislative and judiciary branches modelled on the United States.

Cancellation of all taxes

Now a resident of the United Arab Emirates, he says this offers the best model for Libya's development of tourism and for oil wealth management - although he says he has high hopes for solar energy in the north African nation that enjoys almost 365 days of sun per year.

"The reform and development of the oil and alternative energy sector," is the first item on the party's agenda followed by health care and social security.

New Libya Party aspires to the cancellation of all taxes, starting with personal income taxes.

Its platform, as outlined in a glossy brochure, promotes equal rights, the participation of women and youth in society, as well as the protection of minorities, while limiting the role of tribes as these are "a social entity" that "should not be treated as a political body".

Libya, Amer added, should aspire to be a Muslim but secular state, where an individual's relationship to God is treated as a private rather than a public matter.

He said his group is the first to declare itself a party (hezb in Arabic), and ventures that perhaps others may be more cautious in using the term to avoid being linked to Lebanon's Hezbollah which some Western countries, including the United States, considers a terrorist organisation.

"There are charity organisations, associations and clubs that have the seeds of political parties but none has declared itself a party using the word party yet," he said.

A media spokesperson of the National Transitional Council said "he had never heard" of Amer's party and added that he expected similar declarations to emerge soon. He warned that not all such declarations will "have meaning".


"This is the first political party to be declared," said Abeir Imneina, a political scientist in Benghazi, who is still considering which of the many groups contemplating forming a party she might join after an eventual fall from power of Gaddafi.

A number of working committees that have arisen around the National Transitional Council are likely to declare themselves as political parties in the near future, she added, with many holding meetings to set goals and recruit members.

"Declarations are a first step that helps you get known but not the last as there is still no law governing political parties so no party can be official yet," she said.

There are no elections due in Benghazi, currently administered by the opposition NTC, which is acting as a defacto government and recognised by dozens of countries as the legitimate representative of Libyans.

A Tuesday demonstration calling for the council to remain in power until Gaddafi is ousted and a new constitution adopted drew some 200 flag-waving supporters stopping traffic at a major intersection.

  • MagdaKus - 2011-07-27 11:00

    Sounds a bit naive if they want to abolish all taxes..

  • sipholess - 2011-07-27 11:42

    Let the looting begin. Only a mater of time.

      slg - 2011-07-27 21:01

      I think you're in for a surprise, once Gadhafi and sons have tragically self-destructed.

  • mariam kimmie - 2011-07-27 16:38

    libya has fallen into the western web,they will regret this later, haven't they learnt from the past? do they think selling themselves to the west is freedom. those sellouts have made their biggest mistake by trusting the west.When do the west respect Muslims esp. france's Sarkosi and Ubama. they are your enemies, don't the rebels read history. nato killed so many libians and practically destroyed most of its cities.

      slg - 2011-07-27 18:41

      Inwhat way has Libya fallen in to "the Western web"? Because Libyans want the right to elect their leaders and be free of oppression?

  • slg - 2011-07-27 18:50

    It would be a mistake to try and replicate Western democracy in Libya. The model should be designed by Libyans based on local values and principles. But chauvinism and oppression should specifically be excluded at all costs.

      ???? - 2011-07-27 19:28

      No one objected when Libyans were governed by the deranged dictator, their lives and their country ruined. Now when Libyans rose for freedom and justice and better future, many literate-but-still-ignorant persons are accusing them of all sorts of wrong things. Those are pitiful, as they cannot comprehend the quest for higher goals, which the Libyan people are valiantly committed to.

      ???? - 2011-07-27 19:30

      I totally agree with what you said.

      slg - 2011-07-27 20:58

      It's good to be talking with you. Thank you for speaking up. God speed. The freer world is behind you.

      Kunta-Kinte - 2011-07-28 18:04

      They already had/have that. A system of governance based on tribal councils.

      slg - 2011-07-29 04:07

      The tribal councils are merely advisory to central government. They have no political authority. Moreover, this does not resolve the basic issue of Libyans not being allowed to vote for their political leaders. In all probability, the tribal councils will be worked into the political system, perhaps still in an advisory capacity, once the change-over to a true democracy Libya style has been established. Botswana is a good example of this. Hopefully however Libyan law will require that they allow women as tribal leaders.

  • pages:
  • 1