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New alliance in Libya may forego Islamic extremism

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 11th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Libyans are pinning their hopes on Mahmoud Jibril's liberal National Forces Alliance, or NFA to build a coalition between Libya's many fractious militias. Mostly secular, many Libyans believe the NFA can unite other ideologically opposed political parties -- both opponents and supporters of former dictator Muammar Khadafi.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The NFA is a coalition comprising approximately 40 groups. A strong voter turnout this past weekend in Libya's first democratic elections in nearly 50 years, favored the alliance.

More than 100 political parties and 2,500 individual candidates took part in the historic elections. Eighty seats of the National Conference were set aside for party nominees and 120 for directly elected individuals in what will form the new 200-seat parliament.

Jibril's victory is a singularity of the highly touted Arab spring. The NFA coalition has surged ahead of the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Reconstruction Party (JRP) that many analysts believed would follow a regional trend and put Islamists ahead.

In spite of the NFA's strong showing, Islamist candidates could still win ground when the 120 seats set aside for individual candidates are counted over the next few days.

On his end, Jibril has reached out to his opponents and called for a national coalition. Despite the grand mufti Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani issuing a fatwa against the NFA, and a public edict warning Libyans against voting for secularists, the JRP is reportedly considering Jibril's offer.

Jibril also appears to have the respect of both former opponents and supporter of slain dictator Khadafi.

"Jibril is well educated and has international experience. He is the best man to lead Libya at the moment," a teacher who was a former supporter of Khadafi, and who believes the revolution was a mistake says.

 "Jibril is an intelligent businessman. He is honest and politically experienced. He gave a lot of his own money to the revolutionaries to help them overthrow Khadafi even though he used to be part of Khadafi's government," a policeman in crutches from a bullet wound to the leg, who fought with rebels against Khadafi, says.

Jibril graduated in economics and political science from Cairo University in 1975, before earning a master's degree in political science in 1980 and a doctorate in political science in 1985 from the University of Pittsburgh in the U.S. where he then taught strategic planning for several years.

Jibril served in Khadafi's government as head of the National Planning Council and of the National Economic Development Board, but swapped sides during the civil war and was appointed head of the interim National Transitional Council.

Jibril's support for both revolutionaries and support base of former Khadafi supporters might make Jibril the ideal candidate to bridge the political divides of the bloody revolution.

A version of this story was first published by Inter Press Service news agency.

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