The son of ex-dictator Gaddafi surprise presidential candidate in Libya

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To everyone’s surprise and while it was not known where he was lately, Seif al-Islam, 49, with a salt and pepper beard and wearing prescription glasses, showed up in Sebha (south), one of the three application centers, with Tripoli (west) and Benghazi (east), according to images relayed by local media.

Wrapped in a brown abaya and a turban of the same color tied Bedouin style as his father did, he signed the documents, assisted by his lawyer. He then spoke verses from the Koran and then concluded with the phrase “God bless you”, addressed to the staff of the High Electoral Commission (HNEC).

“The candidate Seif al-Islam Mouammar Kadhafi submitted the documents of his candidacy to the office of the HNEC in Sebha thus completing all the legal conditions required by the law n ° 1 relating to the election of the head of state”, a HNEC announced in a press release. He also had his voter card issued.

At the end of July, Seif al-Islam spoke in an interview with the New York Times about his possible return to the political scene.

The culmination of a laborious process sponsored by the UN, the presidential election of December 24 and the legislative elections scheduled for a month later are supposed to turn the page on a decade of chaos and fratricidal struggles since the fall of the slain Muammar Gaddafi regime. in 2011 during a popular revolt.

Uncertainties

Captured in November 2011 by an armed group in Zenten in north-western Libya, he was sentenced to death in 2015 after a speedy trial.

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The same small group had nevertheless refused to deliver him to the authorities or to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has been looking for him since 2011 for “crimes against humanity”.

The group released him in 2017 and his trace was lost.

“Seif al-Islam Gadhafi’s situation at the ICC has not changed. According to the notice published in 2011, he is still wanted, ”Fadi Abdallah, an ICC spokesperson told Libya al-Ahrar.

For the international community, the holding of elections is essential to pacify the country, which has the most abundant oil reserves in Africa.

The presidential election – the first in the country’s history – and the legislative elections nevertheless remain very uncertain against a backdrop of renewed tensions between the rival camps, installed in the West and in the East.

After the candidacy of Seif al-Islam, many questions remain around those of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strongman of eastern Libya, and of the Prime Minister, Abdelhamid Dbeibah, placed in the spotlight during the conference on Libya on Friday in Paris.

Marshal Haftar himself suspended from his military duties – an essential procedure – three months before the date of the ballot but has not yet submitted his candidacy. Theoretically, Mr. Ddheibah cannot be a candidate because he is a member of the interim government, unless the ballot is postponed.

Fears of going back

For Wolfram Lacher, expert on Libya from the German SWP institute, the candidacy of Seif Al-Islam “filed despite the arrest warrants of the ICC (…) will only further complicate the electoral process” .

This is strongly contested because of an electoral law for the presidential election which does not clearly define the attributions of the future president and was not voted but directly ratified by its leader Aguila Saleh, a close friend of Marshal Haftar.

For Jalel Harchaoui, specialist in Libya from the Global Initiative think tank, “Friday’s Paris summit had already indirectly hinted that no ballot will (it) take place this year. By placing itself in a situation of visibility, Seif further increases the existing confusion ”.

In the streets of Tripoli, Nizar al-Hadi, 33, also expressed concern that “instead of solving the problem, he will complicate it further”. “It’s totally unfair! We know what happened in 2011, ”he added.

Same anguish for Ramzi Douess, a Tripolitan in his thirties. According to him, this candidacy is “undoubtedly acceptable for some people. But will he accept Libya as it is today or will he bring us back? ”.

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