Libya’s electoral body has banned Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of a late dictator, from running in the forthcoming North African oil-rich elections, saying he had already been convicted.
Gaddafi, who first appeared in public last week when he presented his leadership credentials, was one of 25 people to be removed from next month’s election for various reasons. He or she may appeal the decision of the Electoral Commission.
Once considered as a successor to his father, 49-year-old Muammer Gaddafi has not been seen since the 2011 genocide, aided by Nato airstrikes, which ended the dictatorship late. Young Gaddafi, who has made a name for himself as a modern-day activist, taunted the rebels, brandishing a rifle, warning that the country would plunge into civil war and promising the government victory.
He was captured by the military west of Zintan, and four years later a Tripoli court sentenced him to death for crimes he did not commit during the riots. It was released in 2017 but is still being investigated by the International Criminal Court on antitrust charges.
However, experts said they would have received help during the election from Libyan dissidents who were tired of a decade of chaos and violence, and supporters of the old regime or “green”.
Experts say it is unlikely that Gaddafi’s ouster could lead to new instability by disarmament.
“As far as I am concerned, Seif’s team is irrational and my opinion is that they think they can be fired, but they are not ready to take up arms or anything against that, and they are ready to provide support behind others.” head of the Crisis Group.
The UN and the West are placing their hope in the December 24 presidential vote, and later the parliamentary vote, to help unite the country after years of conflict and turmoil that left the country divided into several factions.
Prominent candidates for the presidency are Abdul Hamid Debeibeh, the caretaker Prime Minister and one of the richest people in the country, and Khalifa Haftar, a powerful militant in charge of much of eastern Libya. Haftar launched a civil war in 2019 that drew local governments after a series of riots against the weak UN-backed government in Tripoli.
The conflict subsided last year after Turkey intervened in support of the Tripoli government, resulting in Haftar’s repeated defeats. But the country is still rife with powerful terrorists and foreign fighters, including fighters from Russia, Syria, Sudan and Chad.
The run-up to the by-elections is fraught with controversy and grievances over the process. Gazzini said the controversy could escalate when the crackdown began when “any interested party” would seek to bar a person from being elected.
“The biggest concern in terms of the obstacles and turmoil that may arise is the next phase, whether we see the removal of Haftar or we see Debeibeh being expelled, but what is happening is very small,” he added.
Tim Eaton, a Libyan specialist at Chatham House, said the international approach to Haftar was “very good” as he worried that his removal could lead to violence.
“The belief is that he should be allowed to run, and he could be selected if he fails,” Eaton said. The contradiction is that unless a person has control over a large part of the country it does not give the new government the money it would need. “