Some 721 candidates have registered as candidates in the December 24 legislative elections in Libya, according to a statement from the country’s electoral authority.
The list appears in a daily report published by the commission on its Facebook page regarding the registration process, which will continue until November 22.
Early Tuesday, coup leader Khalifa Haftar announced his candidacy for the presidency. To date, the coup leader Haftar has been an obstacle to the country’s democratic processes.
Haftar, commander of the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), waged war on factions in the west after the country’s split in 2014, including a 14-month offensive to capture Tripoli, which was repulsed by the internationally recognized government of national accord. (GNA) mainly supported by Turkey. The campaign ultimately failed last year, leading to UN-mediated talks and the formation of a transitional government to rule Libya through legislative and presidential elections.
Haftar delegated his military duties in September to his chief of staff, Abdel-Razek al-Nadhuri, for three months to qualify for candidacy.
Haftar’s decision to run for office will anger many in Tripoli and the western regions who argue that the vote in his region will not be fair. He is also accused of war crimes during the assault, which he denies. Haftar, backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is looked down upon by many in western Libya and has been accused of seeking to establish a military dictatorship.
The election is seen as an important step in the political process to rebuild Libya after a decade of chaos. Libya has been ravaged by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. As a result, oil-rich Libya has spent most of the past decade divided between governments rivals – one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other. in the eastern part of the country. However, with the squabbles over the legal basis of the elections, major factions may reject the vote.
Acting Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah also said on Monday that he would run for president if that’s what the people want, a day after Seif al-Islam Gaddafi announced his candidacy for the highest office from the country.
Presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya are set to take place on December 24 as part of a UN-sponsored deal struck by political rivals Libya at meetings in Tunisia last November.
The oil-rich country’s electoral commission on November 8 opened the registration of candidates to the polls despite persistent tensions between parliament, the High Council of State and the government of national unity over electoral powers and laws.
Libyans hope the impending elections will help end an armed conflict that has plagued the oil-rich country for years.