President sends letter to Libyan rebels, calling for modern Muslim democracy

President Mohamed Nasheed has pledged the Maldives’ support to the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) in a letter yesterday, recognising the rebel group as the “sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people.”

The letter, which was sent to NTC chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil, expressed the President’s hope that Libya would “emerge as a free and democratic country, in which fundamental human rights can be enjoyed by all.”

In recent days, Libya’s six-month long revolution against dictator Muammar Gaddafi came to a close when NTC rebels seized Tripoli. Currently, Qaddafi’s whereabouts are unknown and over thirty foreign powers have recognised the NTC as Libya’s legitimate representative group.

President Nasheed noted in his letter to NTC chief Jalil that the Maldives was among the first three countries to recognize the NTC. Iraq, Morocco, the US and European Union member countries have also recognised the group, while Russia and China do not recognise the NTC as Libya’s only legitimate representative but are still engaging in talks with NTC leaders.

Ethiopia and Nigeria have called on African Union member states to recognise the NTC, and Hamas had declared its support of the rebel group.

The President’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair, said today that “The Maldives is in favor of democracy, and feels any government should recognise the voices of its people. We are continuing our support of the Libyan rebels, and asking other countries to do the same.”

Zuhair said the Maldives was one of the first Islamic countries to experience a democratic revolution. In 2005, the Maldivian people began the uprising that ousted former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2008.

“The same thing that is happening all over the Arab world has already happened here,” Zuhair said. “We are ahead of them, and we can share our experience.”

The Maldives, which has been a Muslim state for over 900 years, has one of the longest traditions of shariah law in the Arab world, said Zuhair. He said the Maldives encourages the Libyan NTC to apply democratic norms and values, and to use many small elections as they build a modern Muslim democracy.

“The Maldives would like to see Libya become a modern Islamic democratic state that is fully functional,” said Zuhair.

Colonel Gaddafi was only 27 when he took control of Libya after a military coup in 1969. His 42 years of power brought wealth to Libya, but his reign was also characterised by erratic policies and terrifying punishments. When the revolution began in February of this year, Gaddafi reportedly said, “Muammar is the leader of the revolution until the end of time.”

Earlier this week, the NTC reportedly placed a US$2 million bounty on Gaddafi’s head.