Justice and Development Party now taking stage in new Libya

Justice and Development Party now taking stage in new Libya

Justice and Development Party now taking stage in new Libya

A Moroccan girl holds up a national flag alongside the lantern symbol of the Justice and Development Party (PJD). Sowan has become the party leader of Libya’s PJD. AFP photo

The Muslim Brotherhood in Libya announced that it has formed a party called the Justice and Development Party after six decades in the shadows of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The party will be the fourth in the region having both a name and a platform similar to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

In Egypt, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, known as the Justice and Freedom Party (JFP), whose party platform largely copies the AKP’s, has won about half the seats in parliamentary elections and dominated the upper house elections.

In Morocco, the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), also modeling itself on the AKP, won the parliamentary election last November. The party’s leader and Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane has been likened to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, because their political parties have the same name, their emblems are very similar – Erdoğan’s party uses a light bulb, while the PJD uses a gas lamp – and both claim to favor moderate Islam.

In Tunisia as well, Rached Ghannouchi, chairman of the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, which took most of the votes in the country’s first free elections after the ouster of veteran President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, claims to take its inspiration from the AKP. Yet Libya’s newly-formed Justice and Development Party has not mentioned having been inspired by Turkey’s AKP.

Quota of 10 percent women representatives
A spokesman for the group said the party aims to establish a just and developed society based on religious values. “Our first and main goal is to work on security and stability,” Mohamed Gaair was quoted as saying in an Associated Press report. “We are just a newly founded party, but we will work on the basis of Islamic principles.”

In June Libya’s Islamist and secular parties will vie for seats in a national assembly that will draft a new constitution for the country. Gaair said the group has representation in more than 18 cities across the country, and that more than 1,400 members attended a meeting March 2 in Tripoli to declare the formation of the political party. Mohammed Sowan, a native of the city of Misrata, which saw some of the worst fighting in the civil war that brought down Gadhafi, was chosen as the party’s leader.

The party’s platform is still under discussion, but Muslim Brothers, Islamists and independents came together for the conference with the shared aim of forming a “national party with an Islamic frame of reference.” “The party aims to meet a minimum quota of 10 percent female representation,” Majda Fallah, a party activist, said, adding that she expects the party to exceed that goal. Sowan also said he expects women to play a major role in the new party, because women already play an active role in civil society and “more than 100 women’s groups” helped put together the three-day event.