Gaddafi’s Son Running For President
Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam has registered as a candidate in Libya’s upcoming presidential election after 10 years of a political eclipse.
On December 24, the country will hold the direct presidential election, but rights groups have raised fears that the vote is not going to be free and fair. Additionally, the format of the presidential and parliamentary elections is still uncertain.
Bearded and wearing traditional brown turban and robes, he cited a verse from the Koran that translates as, “judge between us and our people in truth.” “God always prevails in his purpose” citing another chapter of the Muslim holy book, and adding from another section – “even if the unbelievers hate it.”
Many analysts have pointed out that this is not a message of unity, but that it “taps into a certain demographic while threatening another”, as Emadeddin Badi, an expert on Libya and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council told Al Jazeera. What seems clear is that he needs to mobilize his loyalists.
Gaddafi may have the support of several tribes, mainly based in the south of Libya which were loyal to his father until he was killed by rebels in his hometown of Sirte, but the majority of Libyans in and around Tripoli – the base of the country’s transitional government headed by Dbeibah and previously the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez al-Sarraj – are unlikely to support him.
The international community has long pushed for parliamentary and presidential elections to continue with the UN-backed peace and stability process.
After the 2011 Libyan unrest
Since the 2011 uprising, Libya has been immersed in conflict, and although Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was once the heir apparent to his father, his support for the brutal crackdown on protesters 10 years ago damaged his image. Once seen as a possible reformer, he sided with his father and threatened Libyans with killing and chaos.
In the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal end, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was himself captured by a militia in the mountainous region of Zintan. He was held for six years, receiving a death sentence that was later overturned.
After that, Gaddafi was sentenced in absentia for his role during the uprisings and is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. More recently, on Monday 15, Libyan media have reported that the country’s military prosecutor, Mohammed Gharouda, has called on the High National Electoral Commission to halt Gaddafi electoral registrations until he was interrogated for his alleged crimes.
During these past years, he has only appeared by video link in Tripoli for his 2015 trial over the alleged killing of protesters, and again for an interview to the New York Times in July.
Therefore, his comeback has sharply divided opinion in Libya.
Some other candidates that have been confirmed are Haftar and Dbeibah which are not revolutionary, nor democratic figures. If candidates squabble over the electoral process, this could hinder the peace process aimed at unifying long-divided state institutions and withdrawal of foreign armed groups that have remained in Libya despite a United Nations-brokered ceasefire signed by warring factions last year, Ibrahim voices.
Memories of war and chaos in Libya are still too present for Saif al-Islam to be awarded as president. Be as it may be, a functioning judiciary and the fulfillment of the rule of law must be implemented in order to have a functional system and fair elections, elements that Libya is missing.