Gaddafi’s son announces his candidacy for top position ahead of Libyan


The son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, announced on Sunday his candidacy for the country’s next presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on December 24, the Libyan High National Election 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 revolt that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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.

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.

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 the putschist General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the forces based in the East during the civil war, the Speaker of the Parliament Aguila Saleh and the 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, the dictator, 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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