The commander of the illegitimate forces based in eastern Libya, putschist General Khalifa Haftar, announced his candidacy for the presidential elections scheduled for next month on Tuesday.
“I declare my candidacy for the presidential election, not because I am chasing power but because I want to lead our people to glory, progress and prosperity,” he said in a speech broadcast live on Libyan television.
“The elections are the only way out of the serious crisis in which our country is plunged,” said Haftar, who was due to register officially later Tuesday at the electoral center in Benghazi.
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.
Last week, Haftar’s forces said 300 mercenaries fighting alongside him would leave Libya at France’s request in a “unilateral move”, expecting nothing in return from the Tripoli government. But pro-Haftar forces still control much of eastern and southern Libya, and some analysts have expressed skepticism about the chances of a free and fair vote.
Haftar’s announcement comes after Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the late dictator’s son and heir apparent, submitted his candidacy papers in the southern city of Sabha on Sunday. Seif al-Islam, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, has spent years mostly in hiding.
If accepted, Haftar and Seif al-Islam would be among the favorites in the Dec. 24 polls. They sparked controversy in western Libya and in the capital Tripoli, the stronghold of their opponents. Politicians and militia leaders have already expressed their rejection.
Acting Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah also said on Monday that he would run for president if that is what the people want, a day after Seif al-Islam announced his candidacy for the highest office in the country. country.
Dbeibah, who is supposed to rule the country until a winner is declared after the national and presidential elections on December 24, asked a jubilant crowd at a youth rally: “It’s up to you. decide. isn’t it? ”However, running is prohibited under Libya’s current electoral laws.
He has not yet officially announced his candidacy. Under Libyan electoral laws, Dbeibah should have left his government post more than three months before the election date. He also pledged when he was appointed to the interim post through UN-led talks that he would not stand for election in his successor government. However, allegations of corruption marred these talks.
Apparently referring to the Gaddafi family, Dbeibah pointed to a recent controversy involving the Libyan foreign minister, who faces suspension after telling the BBC that the government could work with the United States to extradite a wanted man during the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. The commercial flight over Scotland crashed 270 people dead. Gaddafi’s government had accepted responsibility for the attack and paid compensation to the families of the victims after years of sanctions.
“Who brought us to Lockerbie?” Dbeibah asked the crowd. “That put us under sanctions, travel bans. It cannot be repeated.”
The long-awaited vote continues to face challenges, including unresolved issues regarding laws governing elections and occasional internal strife 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.