Libya's interim PM Abdul Hamid Dbeibah enters race for presidency

His candidacy highlights uncertainty and acrimony over rules governing the election scheduled for December 24

Libya's interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has filed papers to stand for president in a race that features many players from the past chaotic decade. AP Photo
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Libya's interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah on Sunday filed his papers for the presidential election next month, despite being technically barred from taking part.

Mr Dbeibah was chosen in February as Libya’s first premier of a unified government in about seven years, as part of long-running UN-backed efforts to end a bloody conflict between rival administrations in the east and west.

Video obtained by The National showed the prime minister filing his candidacy at the election commission office in Tripoli.

Mr Dbeibah is barred from running under Libya’s current election laws.

He promised he would not seek office in this year’s elections as a condition to taking on his caretaker role earlier this year.

In order to be eligible, he also would have needed to have suspended himself from government duties at least three months before the polling date.

His entry into a race that now features many of Libya's main players of the past decade of chaos adds to the turmoil over a vote that is due to take place within five weeks, but for which rules have not yet been agreed.

The elections are being organised under a law issued in September by Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern-based parliament. That set a first-round presidential vote for December 24 but delayed the parliamentary election to January or February.

Mr Dbeibah and some major political figures and groupings in western Libya have criticised the election law, saying it was passed improperly, and have called for both votes to be delayed until there is agreement on the rules.

The electoral commission and Libyan courts are likely to rule on the eligibility of candidates in the coming weeks.

Among the prominent presidential candidates are Mr Saleh; the eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, who led fighting against a UN-recognised government in Tripoli; Saif Al Islam Qaddafi, a son of Muammar Qaddafi, the autocrat who ruled Libya for decades before being overthrown and killed in the 2011; Fathi Bashagha, a former interior minister; and former prime minister Ali Zeidan.

Updated: November 21, 2021, 7:21 PM