Saif Al Islam Qaddafi urges unacceptable presidential candidates to step aside

Son of late Libyan autocrat says he is willing to take the initiative to prevent further bloodshed

Saif Al Islam Qaddafi, son of Libya's late autocrat Muammar Qaddafi, last November registers as a presidential candidate. Reuters
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Saif Al Islam Qaddafi, the son of late Libyan autocrat Muammar Qaddafi, has urged all controversial and unacceptable presidential candidates, including himself, to withdraw their registration in an attempt to break the worsening political stalemate.

Mr Qaddafi said in a statement carried by Libyan media outlets on Tuesday that his call is aimed at stopping infighting and preventing further bloodshed as the North African country descends into political and legislative chaos.

His initiative also prioritises setting up an independent and neutral body to set the stage for fair elections.

“[But] this option is currently highly unlikely,” according to the statement.

He said: “Whoever sees the country's interest above their own interests, let them accept this initiative like us. Libya is going through a critical juncture. Presidential and parliamentary elections must take place and this is the last solution to avoid bloodshed.”

In November, Mr Qaddafi, 49, made a rare public appearance when he registered himself as a candidate in the country’s first presidential election.

Wearing traditional Libyan clothes that strongly resembled the attire favoured by his late father, he appeared in an online video while signing his candidacy application to the High National Election Commission.

Almost 100 people have registered for the presidential race. But some candidates have sparked fierce controversy, violent protests and public parades by powerful militia in a country that has become a key source of spreading weapons in the region after the downfall of Qaddafi in 2011, according to the UN.

Since then, Libya has been under an arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council.

Sentenced to death

Mr Qaddafi is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed in 2011. A Tripoli court sentenced him to death for those same crimes in 2015. He denies the charges.

The Election Commission said on November 24 that Mr Qaddafi was ineligible to run in the presidential election.

Other controversial candidates include Gen Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army based in the east, and Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who currently leads a government in the capital Tripoli.

Mr Dbeibah is barred from the electoral process under Article 12 of the current election law, which stipulates that he would have had to step down from government duties more than three months before the date of the vote.

The Election Commission delayed both the parliamentary and presidential elections last December in an effort to avert a relapse into civil conflict as tensions between rival political factions increased.

Since then, two governments re-remerged in the East and the West as well as rival financial and political entities in both parts of the country.

Several rounds of UN-sponsored talks in the Egyptian capital Cairo and the Swiss city of Geneva between the bickering parties have proved futile so far.

The parliamentary election, which was set beforehand on December 24, followed more than 12 months of a UN-brokered peace process that ended years of civil war, which also attracted the intervention of regional and world powers, including Russia and Turkey.

Since Friday, several Libyan cities have endured sporadic protests against poor public services and the ongoing political rivalry.

On Friday night, protesters stormed the seat of the House of Representatives, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, ransacking its offices and torching part of the building.

In Tripoli and the main eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of the 2011 uprising, thousands took to the streets to chants of "we want the lights to work" in protest at daily power cuts lasting more than 18 hours despite Libya being the site of Africa's largest oil reserves.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 10:51 AM