BENGHAZI, Libya – Libya’s highest electoral body said on Wednesday that the son and former successor of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi is disqualified from running in the presidential election choicewhich will take place next month.
According to a list of barred candidates issued by the country’s high national election committee, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi is barred due to previous convictions against him. He can appeal the board’s decision in court within the next few days.
Seif al-Islam was sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli in 2015 for using force against protesters urging his father to resign, but that sentence has since been questioned by Libya’s rival authorities. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity related to the 2011 uprising against his father.
Libya will hold the first round of its presidential election choices on December 24, after years of UN-led attempts to usher in a more democratic future and bring the country’s war to an end. After the overthrow and killing of Gaddafi, the oil-rich Libya spent most of the last decade divided between rival governments – one based in the capital Tripoli and the other in the eastern part of the country. Each side of the civil war has also had the support of mercenaries and foreign forces from Turkey, Russia and Syria and other regional powers.
The son of Libya’s former dictator submitted his candidacy papers in the southern city of Sabha, 650 kilometers (400 miles) south of the capital Tripoli on November 14. It was the first time the 49-year-old, who received a doctorate from the London School of Economics, had appeared in public in several years.
He was captured by warriors in the city of Zintan in late 2011, the year the popular uprising, backed by NATO, overthrew his father after more than 40 years in power. Moammar Gadhafi was killed the same year in October in the middle of the ensuing battles that were to turn into a civil war. The dictator’s son was released in June 2017.
The announcement of his possible candidacy has caused controversy in the divided country, where a number of other high-profile candidates have also appeared in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, several controversial candidates emerged, including the powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter and the country’s interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
The long-awaited vote still faces challenges, including unresolved issues of electoral law and occasional conflicts among armed groups. Other obstacles include the deep rift that exists between the country’s east and west, divided for years by the war, and the presence of thousands of foreign soldiers and troops.