Supporters of Libyan Muslim Brotherhood celeb
Supporters of Libyan Muslim Brotherhood celebReuters

Libya's outgoing National Transitional Council said on Thursday that Islamic law sharia should be the “main” source of legislation and that this should not be subject to a referendum.

“The Libyan people are attached to Islam, as a religion and legislation,” NTC spokesman Saleh Darhoub said, according to a report on AFP.

“As such the National Transitional Council recommends that the (next) congress make sharia the main source of legislation,” he added, “And this should not be subject to a referendum.”

Darhoub later explained that the decision was made to reassure elements of society fearful of being saddled with a constitution that does not take sharia into account.

"We are not afraid of holding a referendum on sharia. But we wanted to reassure elements of society who are scared of the referendum," Darhoub said, according to AFP.

Libyans will vote on Saturday for a General National Congress, which will be tasked with appointing a new government and a constituent authority. It will be the country’s first democratic elections since the 1960s, when former strongman Muammar Qaddafi took power. Qaddafi was captured and killed by rebels last October after a months-long civil war.

Some of the key issues to be determined by the constitution are the form of governance, the weight of Islam in state and society, the role of women and the rights of minorities.

After the constitution is approved, the newly elected congress will have 30 days to issue a new election law, with elections for a government to be held 180 days after that, according to the NTC's roadmap.

Hundreds of armed men calling for Islamic law and rejecting democracy as "Western" staged a demonstration last month in the eastern city of Benghazi, noted AFP.

Well-armed Islamist groups in the east, such as the Partisans of Sharia, oppose the vote on Saturday, saying that the country needs no constitution other than the Koran. Libya's interim rulers have said that radical Islamists are a minority.

Islamists have won majorities in both Egypt and Tunisia after the countries’ former rulers were toppled as part of the Arab Spring protests.

In April, Libyan authorities passed a law that bans regional, religious and tribal political platforms and bans foreign funding for political parties. That ban was lifted just several days later.