A popular figure in Libya, Mr Belhadj will be hoping that his new party — to be named “Nation” or “Watan” — can capitalise on the emergence of political Islam elsewhere in the region in the wake of the Arab Spring…

One of Libya’s most powerful militia leaders, Mr Belhadj said he was making his move because he believed he had successfully completed the task of integrating former rebels into the army and other state institutions, making Tripoli a safer place in the process.

“We now see a new phase in which Libya’s political landscape is being shaped,” he told Al Jazeera. “I want to be part of building a modern Libya for which Libyans made sacrifices to see it come true.”