Libyans flex democratic muscle
Protesters in Benghazi have for days now been blocking the entrance to the offices of Libya's biggest oil company, Agoco, to demand jobs for youth and greater transparency over public funds. (Tripoli Post, April 25) Meanwhile the National Transitional Council (NTC) has passed a measure that bans parties based on religious or ethnic identity. The law comes two months ahead of the country's first general elections to choose a 200-member assembly to draw up a new constitution and form a democratic government. The new law is of course opposed by the new Freedom and Development Party, linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. (Catholic Online, Tripoli Post, April 26)
The law was actually first proposed by former Berber rebels from the country's west, who issued a statement in October calling for a unified, secular, multi-cultural Libya. This appears to be the beginning of the post-revolutionary reckoning that we have predicted—a three-way struggle between Western-backed proxy forces, Islamist fundamentalists, and militantly independent Berbers and other Libyans concerned with defending their hard-won freedom. The passage of a law barring Islamist or Arab nationalist (or Berber nationalist) parties from public office is a sign that the last category—the one we are avidly rooting for—is prevailing. For the moment.