Libya Bans Religious Parties

Libya has banned political parties and associations based on regional, religious, and tribal platforms ahead of scheduled 19 June elections

Contact Editor
Gabe Kahn,

NTC head Mustafa Jalili
NTC head Mustafa Jalili

Libyan authorities on Tuesday passed a law that bans regional, religious and tribal political platforms and bans foreign funding for political parties.

“Political parties and associations should not be built on the basis of regional, tribal or religious affiliation,” Mustafa Landi of the ruling interim National Transitional Council told AFP.

“They cannot be an extension of a political party abroad or receive foreign funding,” he said.

Additionally, the law stipulates that political parties must have a minimum of 250 founding members, while associations require only 100.

Libya’s electoral committee warned earlier in April that legislation on forming political parties must be adopted soon if June elections are to go ahead as scheduled.

Even before the law was drafted, dozens of political parties who intend to run in the upcoming June 19 elections have been formed in recent months.

However, 120 of the assembly’s seats are reserved for independent candidates, while political parties are only running for the remaining 80.

Political organizations of any kind were banned for decades under the late Muammar Qaddafi, who was ousted in last year’s popular uprising and summarily executed in the field by rebel fighters.

The new law makes Libya the second nation to undergo an Arab Spring revolution – in which Islamists played a significant role – to pass legislation aimed at ensuring the creation of a secular constitution and system of government.

Libya's interim government is faced with both a seperatist movement seeking regional domestic autonomy in the east, tribal rebels who refuse to accept central military authority, and pressure from Islamists seeking to create a theocratic state.

In neighboring Tunisia – now ruled by the Islamic Ennahda party – the government announced it would not seek to enshrine Sharia Law in the new constitution or government institutions.

In late March, Ziad Doulatli of the Ennahda Party said the first article of the Constitution would remain the same as it had under the country's secular dictators.

It reads, "Tunisia is a free, independent and sovereign state. Its religion is Islam, its language is Arabic and its type of government is the Republic."