(The Conference of the Muslim Brotherhood in Benghazi November 17, 2011. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori)

The Muslim Brotherhood has held its first public conference on Libyan soil  after being banned for decades, and used the platform to set a moderate tone, calling for a broad national reconstruction effort.

As Libya emerges from a bloody civil war, many observers believe the next elections could pit religious political groups against secular parties, with better-organized Islamists such as the Brotherhood having a tactical advantage.

Speaking nine months to the day after the start of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi that eventually ended his 42-year rule, Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leader Suleiman Abdelkader praised the rebellion on Thursday and called on Libya’s factions to unite.

“Rebuilding Libya is not a task for one group or one party but for everyone, based on their ability,” Abdelkader told the meeting of about 700 people at a wedding hall in Benghazi, the eastern city where the revolt against Gaddafi began.