Libyan elections: the runners and riders

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

Published Saturday, July 7, 2012

Libya is holding its first elections since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In a country divided tribally, politically and regionally there are more than a few candidates putting their name forward.

Al-Akhbar introduces you to some of the better known groups bidding for votes:

  • National Forces Alliance: A coalition of 65 liberal parties led by Mahmoud Jibril, the war-time rebel prime minister and US-educated political scientist. Jibril himself is not running for the national assembly.
  • Justice and Construction Party: The political branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, modelled on its Egyptian counterpart. Mohammed Sawan, a former political prisoner under Gaddafi heads the group. The JCP is expected to receive a morale boost in the polls after Egyptians elected a Muslim Brotherhood candidate as president for the first time last month.
  • Al-Watan or Homeland: An Islamist group led by former rebel militia leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj. A leader of the now-defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which waged an insurgency against Gaddafi in the 1990s, Belhadj fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan, where he associated with senior al Qaeda members. He has since distanced himself from the militant group.Critics say al-Watan is funded by Qatar, which was a key backer of last-year's NATO-backed rebellion against Gaddafi.
  • National Front: Affiliated with the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, this is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood led by intellectual dissident Mohammed al-Magriaf.
  • Al-Asala: A Salafi Islamist group led by Sheikh Abdul Bassit Ghweila. It has put forward some female candidates who appear in full face covering on posters. The group believes political parties are un-Islamic and prefers to refer to itself as a "gathering."

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