Armed fighters on Thursday prevented the lawyer for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the late Libyan dictator, from appealing after his candidacy was rejected by the electoral commission.
Disputes over issues such as the eligibility of candidates threaten to derail the elections, scheduled for December 24, and with them a UN-backed peace process aimed at ending a decade of chaos since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
Interference from fighters of any faction will further undermine confidence in a vote that many Libyans want, but it has also raised fears of a new conflict.
Late Wednesday, the electoral commission disqualified Saif al-Islam and 24 others from a field of 98 presidential candidates, subject to appeal.
The Libyan judiciary will have the final say on the list of candidates, the commission and UN envoy to Libya Jan Kubis said on Wednesday.
Gaddafi’s lawyer Khaled al-Zaidi said in a video that armed men raided the court in the southern town of Sebha, one of the three registration centers, and prevented him from d ‘enter to file his client’s appeal against disqualification.
Tripoli’s justice ministry said in a statement posted on its social media pages that an armed group had forced everyone out of the court building.
Sebha is under the control of a group allied with the force of the Libyan National Army (LNA) based in the east and commanded by the putschist general Khalifa Haftar, another of the main candidates for the election.
Gaddafi’s candidacy was rejected on the basis of his conviction in absentia in 2015 by a Tripoli court for war crimes committed during the fighting that toppled his father in 2011.
He has spent the last decade in the mountain town of Zintan, where his captors took him after being arrested as he tried to flee Libya during the uprising, and would almost certainly be arrested if he went to Tripoli. .
Also on Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Council overturned a ruling it had made just days ago and said appeals regarding eligibility for election could only be filed in the district where the candidate had been. registered.
Analysts said the judiciary’s decision would also make it very difficult to file disqualification requests from applicants initially deemed eligible if, like Haftar, they have armed forces controlling the region.