Gaddafi’s son is ineligible to run for president
Benghazi – Libya’s highest electoral body on Wednesday excluded the son and late crown prince Muammar Gaddafi from running for president in the elections scheduled for next month, citing his previous convictions.
Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi’s name appeared on the list of ineligible candidates issued by the country’s Supreme National Elections Committee. He can appeal the decision in court in the coming days.
A Tripoli court sentenced Saif al-Islam to death in 2015 for using violence against protesters in the 2011 uprising against his father, but the ruling has since been challenged by rival Libyan authorities. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity related to the uprising.
Libya is set to hold its first round of presidential elections on December 24, after years of UN-led attempts to usher in a more democratic future and end the country’s civil war. Adding to concerns surrounding the elections, the top UN envoy to Libya submitted his resignation last week, although he said Wednesday he was ready to stay in the elections if necessary.
After the overthrow and murder of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, oil-rich Libya has spent much of the past decade divided between two rival governments – one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the eastern part of the country. Each side in the civil war also had the support of mercenaries and foreign forces from Turkey, Russia, Syria, and other regional powers.
The son of the former Libyan dictator submitted his candidacy papers in the southern city of Sebha on November 14. It was the first time in years that the 49-year-old, who earned a PhD from the London School of Economics, had appeared in public. .
He was captured by fighters in the town of Zintan in late 2011, after the uprising ended his father’s rule after 40 years. Saif al-Islam was released in June 2017.
The announcement of his potential candidacy has sparked controversy across the divided country, where a number of other prominent candidates have also appeared in recent weeks. Among them are powerful military commander Khalifa Haftar and interim Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dabaiba.
The long-awaited vote continues to face challenges, including outstanding issues over the laws governing elections, and the occasional infighting between armed groups. Other obstacles include the deep rift that still exists between the east and west of the country and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and forces.
Meanwhile, UN envoy Jan Kubis submitted his resignation last week, although it was not announced until Tuesday.
The Geneva-based diplomat serves as the Special Envoy for Libya and Head of the United Nations Political Mission in the country. He told the Security Council on Wednesday that he would be leaving to facilitate a change he considered vital: moving the mission chief of mission to Tripoli to be on the ground at a moment of high risk for Libya.
The idea split the board during discussions in September. Western countries embraced it. Russia refused.
Kubis added that he is ready to continue serving as a special envoy during the elections, although he said the United Nations accepted his resignation on December 10.
Asked about this discrepancy, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the organization “will continue to work with him as we search for a successor.”
The job remained open for about a year before Kubis, the former Slovak foreign minister and UN official in Iraq and Afghanistan, took it.
The Security Council stressed the importance of the upcoming elections on Wednesday, urging a “comprehensive and consultative electoral process”, warning against violence and media disinformation and calling on Libyans to accept the results of the vote.
Libyan Ambassador Taher al-Sunni said his country appreciates “all international initiatives with real intentions,” but said council members need to “pay attention to us as well” and let the Libyans lead their way out of the crisis.
“You have a moral responsibility for the developments in my country over the past 10 years,” he told the group. “Don’t underestimate us.”
Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed from New York.
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