The Arab Spring brought the Muslim Brotherhood into the government in Egypt and Tunisia, and the Brotherhood has now unveiled its new party in Libya.
As in other countries where the movement had for decades been repressed, the newly-created Al-Adala'a Wa Al-Beena (Justice and Development Party) will be led by a former political prisoner. Mohamed Hassan Sowan spent eight years in jail under the regime of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who was killed after being captured by the rebels who eventually became the country's new rulers last November. He was freed in 2006.
The announcement was made Saturday, despite the absence of laws that specify a formal process for the establishment of political parties. Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed Ga'air said more than 1,400 members attended a meeting in Tripoli on Friday to declare the formation of the party, and chose Sowan, a native of Misrata.
As in many of the other Arab nations in which governments were toppled during last year's Arab Spring uprising, the Muslim Brotherhood is considered the most organized movement in Libya, in existence there since 1949, and the one with the widest nationwide support.
In Tunisia, where last year's Jasmine Revolution ignited the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood's moderate Islamist political party is called Ennahda. The party's secretary-general, Hamadi Jebali, who had spent 16 years behind bars, became the country's first Prime Minister to follow the upheaval that toppled former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
When Egypt followed Tunisia with its Tahrir Square Revolution, known in Cairo as the January 25 Revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamist parties took control of the country's parliament as well.
The movement spawned two parties – the moderate “Freedom and Justice” party, which today controls the government, and the more extreme Islamist Al-Noor party. Both together won the vast majority of seats in Egypt's recent parliamentary elections. A national presidential poll is now set for May.