Libya Dawn Islamists 'reject Ansar al-Sharia terror'

Tripoli (AFP) - Islamist militias have distanced themselves from jihadists seeking Islamic law in Libya, saying they support a democratic transition, but they are also challenging the legitimacy of the newly elected parliament.

Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militiamen, who seized Tripoli airport from nationalist Zintan fighters on Saturday, said in a statement published by the LANA news agency Tuesday that they "respect the Constitution and the peaceful transfer of power".

However, the Libya Dawn coalition is also behind the convening of outgoing transitional political body the General National Congress (GNC), which on Monday nominated a pro-Islamist to form a rival government to the elected parliament sitting in Tobruk in the country's far east.

In its statement, Fajr Libya accused the parliament elected on June 25 of violating consitutional legitimacy by calling for foreign intervention to solve the chaos gripping the violence-wracked North African nation.

The Islamist coalition also spurned a call by the Benghazi-based Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group to join it.

"Proclaim that your struggle is for sharia and not democratic legitimacy, so the world unites under the same banner to bolster the forces of good against the forces of evil," Ansar al-Sharia had urged Fajr Libya on Monday.

The response on Tuesday by the Islamists in the west was to the point.

"Fajr Libya announces its rejection of terrorism and extremism, and stresses that it does not belong to a terrorist organisation," its statement said.

It "extends a hand to everyone who wants to rebuild Libya, respecting democracy and constitutional legality".

Fajr Libya said it could help the security forces to re-establish law and order in Tripoli and also "ensure the security of foreign nationals" in the capital.

The mounting security problems in Libya have prompted thousands of people to flee and numerous countries to close their embassies and urge their citizens to leave.

Parliament has branded both Islamist groups, Fajr Libya in the west and Ansar al-Sharia in the east, as "terrorist" organisations, and said it will use the army to eradicate them.