Libya’s interim leader said on Saturday his country will not turn into an extremist Islamic country.
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of Libya’s National Transitional Council, made the comments in a meeting in Tripoli with the European Union’s policy chief, Catherine Ashton, according to a report in The Associated Press.
Abdul-Jalil caused a stir in the West last month when he said that legislation in the new Libya would be based on the Islamic Sharia law and that tenets violating it would be nullified.
Similar concerns were recently voiced about Tunisia, where the Islamist party Ennahada claimed victory in country’s first democratic election since former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in January.
The party’s leader said last week that the new Tunisia will welcome people of all faiths and carry on the tradition of moderation for which it has always been known.
Libya’s Abdul-Jalil made similar comments on Saturday, saying, “We will not be an extremist Islamic country. Our Islam is moderate.”
He also said women would play a role in Libyan politics and business and that they would be represented in the interim government that is now being formed. He added that the 63-member NTC has four female members, citing it as an example of the political participation of women.
Abdul-Jalil said that the recently appointed prime minister, Abdurrahim el-Keib, is to present the list of names of the new ministers to the NTC in the coming week. He noted that the ministers would be chosen based on expertise, not tribal considerations.
The new government will run Libya until a national assembly is elected by June.
Meanwhile, Ashton opened an EU office in Tripoli, saying her visit was meant to show support for post-Qaddafi Libya.
“We hope to be here for many years as your partner,” AP quoted Ashton as having told Abdul-Jalil.
She added she would try to ensure that billions of dollars in Libyan assets abroad, frozen as part of international sanctions against the Qaddafi regime, will be released as quickly as possible. She said she would raise the issue when European foreign ministers meet on Monday.