Despite a proliferation of newly established parties of all stripes, alarm has spread within Libya that the faultlines throw open by the experiment with democracy will boil down to competing religious or regional loyalties.
Members of the Transitional National Council (TNC) backed guidelines that stipulated parties must have a national following and eschew funding from abroad. "Political parties and associations should not be built on the basis of regional, tribal or religious affiliation," said Mustafa Landi, a member of the TNC’s legal committee.
Preparations for local council elections in eastern Benghazi, the city that first rose in rebellion against Col Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship, this month have been dominated by calls for autonomy and even secession from Tripoli.
Resentment against the TNC’s perceived failure to establish functioning government has fanned geographical divisions nationwide and triggered calls for the resignation of top figures in the largely secular authority.
Libya is due to hold national elections for an assembly that will establish a constitution ahead of free elections. Banners proclaiming loyalty to a plethora of parties and movements have flooded the streets ahead of the June vote.
Diplomats claim there are a handful of powerful religious leaders waiting in the wings until the elections under a new constitution are called.
There was a broad welcome for the announcement of the new measures among democracy campaigners.
"Our main aim is Libya's future. We are all Muslims,” wrote Nahla Elsubeihi on Twitter. “Plus this law will give equal chances for all parties.”