Turkey is an important country in the region and has a great opportunity to contribute to the peace and stability of Libya, the Gaddafi family spokesman said on Monday.
As Libya’s presidential elections approach, the political scene in the war-torn country has once again been shaken, this time by the official candidacy of the son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam. He announced on Sunday his candidacy for the country’s next presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on December 24, Libya’s High National Electoral Commission (HNEC) announced.
Libya’s first-ever direct presidential poll is the culmination of the peace process launched last year by the United Nations to end years of violence since the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Many fear that the security situation in Libya does not allow a free and fair vote.
Al-Islam, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity related to the 2011 uprising, filed his candidacy documents in the southern city of Sabha, 650 kilometers (400 miles) south of the capital Tripoli. NHEC said in a statement. Yet there are also reports that some factions have made another request to have his candidacy quashed due to his trial by the ICC after his father’s death and the so-called Libyan revolution.
The news divided factions as Musa Ibrahim Gadhafi, the last official spokesperson for the overthrown ruler of Libya, said al-Islam does not represent an individual project to rule Libya but a national project for peace, reconciliation and economic and political development.
Turkey has a considerable interest in Libya due to Eastern Mediterranean affairs in addition to the good relations and cooperation with the government recognized by the UN. Turkish authorities have repeatedly stated that Turkey supports the political peace process in Libya and attaches importance to the upcoming elections.
Musa Ibrahim said Turkey’s position is critical and the Turkish government should be in contact with all candidates.
“I think that Turkey is an important country in the Middle East, has a great opportunity to contribute to the peace and stability of Libya by working with all the candidates but especially with Dr. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi for s’ ensure that Libya’s political process is successful, independent and this political process expresses the wishes, hopes and dreams of the Libyan people and not those of the West, “he said.
Delivering a message from Saif al-Islam, Musa Ibrahim said: “I call on the Turkish government to play an important role in helping Libya make a peaceful transition to a successful political process in the coming months. It is very important that no foreign government intervenes on the scene or the Libyan sides, but to ensure that there is no foreign military presence in Libya or foreign support for mercenaries or any violence in the country. I think Turkey can do this if the government fully understands the political scene currently unfolding in Libya with the entry of Dr Saif al-Islam as presidential candidate.
Musa Ibrahim has confirmed that Saif al-Islam is now officially a presidential candidate and millions of Libyans are hopeful that he can advance Libya’s political scene in several positive ways. According to Ibrahim, the most important thing is to get rid of Libya’s dependence on foreign powers and the hegemony of these foreign powers over Libya.
Emphasizing that Libya is a country that has been destroyed without sovereignty and that the West has complete domination over the country’s affairs, Ibrahim said: “Millions of Libyans are hoping that Dr. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi can bring together many Libyans to establish a process of national dialogue, peace and reconciliation, and then go even further to establish a constitutional basis for the future of Libya.
Gaddafi’s son was captured by fighters in Zintan in late 2011, the year a NATO-backed popular uprising overthrew his father after more than 40 years in power. Muammar Gaddafi was later killed amid the ensuing fighting, which turned into a civil war. As a result, oil-rich Libya has spent most of the past decade between rival governments – one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the country’s east.
In a video shared by an election official, al-Islam addressed the camera, claiming that God will decide the right course for the country’s future. He wore a traditional Libyan robe and turban and glasses. It was the first time in years that he had appeared in public.
He was considered the reformist face of the Gaddafi regime before the uprising of 2011. He was released in June 2017 after more than five years in detention. In July, he told the New York Times in an exclusive interview that he was considering a candidacy for the country’s top office. His candidacy is likely to spark controversy across the divided country.
Regarding the opponents’ request to cancel Saif al-Islam’s candidacy, the spokesperson said that the request was officially, formally and legally accepted.
“Those who ask for its cancellation have no authority. The case is over and over. Dr Saif al-Islam Gadhafi is an official candidate for the presidency of Libya.
ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah declined to comment on Saif al-Islam’s candidacy. “The Court does not comment on political issues, because for the legal side, there is an arrest warrant pending and that has not changed,” he said.
Gaddafi’s son, who has deep-rooted ties to tribes across Libya, is the first major presidential hopeful to apply for the country’s top post. Other potential candidates include putschist General Khalifa Haftar, commander of eastern-based forces during the civil war, Speaker of Parliament Aguila Saleh and former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha.
The electoral agency began the process of registering presidential and parliamentary candidates last week. Candidates have until November 22 to register to run for the highest office in the country, while parliamentary candidates have until December 7 to apply.
The announcement came after an international conference in Paris on Friday expressed support for the holding of “free, fair, inclusive and credible presidential and parliamentary elections” on December 24.
The long-awaited vote still faces challenges, including unresolved issues regarding electoral laws and occasional internal struggles between armed groups. Other obstacles include the deep divide that remains between the east and west of the country, divided for years by war, and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and soldiers.
Gaddafi had eight children, most of whom played an important role in his regime. His son Muatassim was killed at the same time as Gaddafi was captured and killed. Two other sons, Saif al-Arab and Khamis, were killed earlier in the uprising. Another son, al-Saadi Gaddafi, was released in September after more than seven years of detention in the capital Tripoli following his extradition from neighboring Niger.
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