Don't call us secular, says Libyan poll favourite

Alliance of moderate parties takes lead in election as voters reject Islamist alternative

Benghazi

The first round of official results from elections in Libya after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi is expected to show that an alliance of moderate parties was in the lead and that there has been widespread of rejection of the Islamists across the country.

Mahmoud Jibril, a former regime official leading the National Forces Alliance, was at pains not to appear triumphalist at the early returns after Saturday's election, stressing it was wrong to label his group secular and calling for a coalition of over 150 parties to chart the country's future after 42 years of dictatorship. Although it is unlikely such a large number of differing factions would be able to form a united administration, the way has been opened for working together with conservative religious parties who, at one stage, were predicting that they would form the new government.

Elections in other countries which had experienced the Arab Spring – Tunisia and Egypt – had seen religious hardliners take up the reins of power. But in Libya the Muslim Brotherhood, standing as Justice and Development Party and Al-Watan, in which a former militia chief, Abdul Hakim Belhaj, is a leading figure, have fallen away, failing to build on an early momentum.

Mr Jibril's Alliance has, it is estimated, won just over 78 per cent of the votes in the capital, Tripoli, and around 56 per cent in Benghazi, in the conservative east, where according to electoral sources, the Muslim Brotherhood, has won just 15 per cent, coming third. Meanwhile Mr Belhaj's al-Watan may have received as little as six per cent of the cast ballot.

Mr Jibril, who was the first Prime Minister of the National Transitional Council (NTC) administering the country after the revolution, has been reconciliatory towards the religious elements stressing his Alliance believed Sharia should be an important source for a future legal code.

There was no immediate response to Mr Jibril's offer of a pact from the Muslim Brotherhood, while Mr Belhaj's Al-Watan said it was studying the proposals. However, another Islamist faction, Al-Assala Group, said it was open to talks. But its leader, Ali Rhouma El-Sibai, added: "The door is open to dialogue now for all Libyans. But no agreement is possible until we know what is on the table. We cannot compromise our principles. But we are always prepared to be constructive."

A new government also faces the problem of opposition in the east from federalists who want to see the regions get a large degree of autonomy. This would leave Benghazi and its hinterland in a powerful economic position with the possession of much of the country's oil wealth.

The federalists had boycotted and sought to disrupt voting, looting and destroying ballot boxes from four polling stations. Two people were killed, including a 22-year-old student delivering election material. Jamal Bugrien, at Benghazi's electoral commission, said: "The federalists scored an own goal by not voting, their voices were not heard. Also a lot of people who may have been sympathetic to their views were put off by the violence."

Mr Jibril, in his theme of reconciliation, urged immediate talks with the opposition in the east: "There should be a serious dialogue. As there's a sincere wish on their part and our part, I think we can reach a compromise."

Mustafa Mohammed Fartusi, a federalist activist, said no offer would be rejected. "One of our aims was to see Qatar does not get a big voice in Libya through the Islamists. That's been seen off even without our votes. One reason for the trouble on Saturday was our demands were ignored by the NTC. Now if Tripoli wants to talk, we'll listen."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk