Libya Islamist quits post to enter politics: aide

Reuters News
Posted: May 14, 2012 10:31 PM
Libya Islamist quits post to enter politics: aide

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - One of Libya's most prominent Islamists, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, has stepped down from his post as head of an armed militia in the capital to set up a political party, an aide said on Monday.

Belhadj was imprisoned under former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and then helped topple him in last year's revolt. Libya holds its first ever election on June 19 for a special transitional assembly which will draft a constitution.

His party is unlikely to be able to register in time for the June vote but with Islamists gaining in influence since Gaddafi's overthrow, it will be well placed to compete in fresh elections to be scheduled by the new assembly.

"He will announce his political party," Anis Al-Sharif, head of Belhadj's office, told Reuters, adding that Belhadj had sent a letter to the ruling National Transitional Council on his resignation as head of the Tripoli military council.

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"He also feels that the revolutionaries have done their job to oust the Gaddafi regime and now it's time to rebuild Libya, to move to a political state," he said.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Maria Golovnina)