Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi Excluded From Elections

Son of Libya’s former ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi has been excluded from running for president in the upcoming Libyan elections, an informed Libyan source said.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media, told the Agency that the decision by the Libyan election commission was made as Gaddafi was handed a final court ruling over committing war crimes. The source also said that Gaddafi has to submit evidence that the court ruling was annulled or dropped.

Gaddafi has been one of 25 candidates disqualified by the commission, in an initial decision pending appeals process that will ultimately be decided by the judiciary.

In the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal end, in 2011, 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.

Two other well-known candidates, Ali Zeidan and Nouri Abusahmain were also excluded and some of the other candidates approved by the commission have been accused of possible violations by political rivals. Interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah promised not to run for president as a condition of taking on his present role and did not stand down from it three months before the vote as is required by contested election law.

Another prominent candidate, eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, is said to have United States nationality, which could also rule him out. Many people in western Libya accuse him of war crimes committed during his 2019-20 assault on Tripoli while he denies them.

Will the elections go through?

Those exclusions add to the ongoing issues that could derail the elections. “The contested legal basis of the elections and an absence of meaningful vetting means that further problems are likely to emerge as rivals continue to try to shape the process in their favor”, Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme from Chatham House Tim Eaton has told Core Middle East.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are set to take place on 24 December under an UN-sponsored agreement reached by Libyan political rivals during meetings in Tunisia on 15 November 2020. International pressure for the elections to go ahead will be sustained, however, there is no guarantee that the process will be completed.

As Tim Eaton puts it, the process “is currently scheduled to last a number of weeks, making the potential for the situation to deteriorate amid the polling process high, while the concentration of power in the position of the presidency strengthens the zero-sum analyses of the rival players.” Since the president selects the prime minister and controls the political process, it “creates further incentive to dispute any result, and so likely are violations of the elections’ sanctity that such disputes may be justified.”

What is for certain is that Saif Al-Islam is likely to remain on the scene, “further polarising the political landscape while posing a threat not only to those vocal supporters of the revolution who seem his as anathema but also to actors such as Haftar, who is competing for the same political constituency”, analyses Tim Eaton.

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