Son of former Libyan ruler Gaddafi is running for president

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, 49, appeared in a video of the electoral commission in the traditional brown robe and turban, and with a gray beard and glasses, signing documents at the polling station in the southern city of Sebha.
Gadhafi is one of the most prominent and controversial figures expected to run for president, a list that also includes eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah and Speaker of Parliament Aguila Saleh.
Yet while his name is one of the best known in Libya, and while he once played a major role in shaping politics before the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that destroyed his family’s regime, he has hardly been seen. seen in a decade.

His formal entry into an election whose rules are still contested by Libya’s warring factions may also raise new questions about a race that features candidates deemed unacceptable in some regions.

Despite public backing from most Libyan factions and foreign powers for the December 24 elections, the vote remains in doubt as rival entities argue over the rules and timing.

A major conference in Paris on Friday agreed to sanction anyone who interrupts or prevents voting, but with less than six weeks to go, there is still no agreement on the rules to govern who should be able to run.

While Gaddafi is likely to play on nostalgia for the era before the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that swept his father from power and ushered in a decade of chaos and violence, analysts say it may not be one. of favorites.

Saif al-Islam remains a cipher for Libyans, as Zintan fighters kept him hidden for years, and his views on the country's crisis are unknown.

Many Libyans still remember the era of Gadhafi as one of harsh autocracy, while Saif al-Islam and other figures of the former regime have been out of power for so long that they may find it difficult to mobilize as much support as their main rivals.

Moammar Gadhafi was captured outside his hometown of Sirte by opposition fighters in October 2011 and summarily shot. Saif al-Islam was captured days later by fighters from the mountainous region of Zintan as he tried to flee Libya for Niger.

Just over a decade later, Saif al-Islam is now something of a figure for Libyans. Zintan fighters kept him out of the public eye for years and his views on the crisis are unknown.

He gave an interview to the New York Times earlier this year, but has yet to appear in public speaking directly to Libyans.

To complicate his presidential ambitions, Gadhafi was tried in absentia in 2015 by a Tripoli court in which he appeared via a video link from Zintan, and which sentenced him to death for war crimes, including the murder of protesters during the revolt of 2011.
He would likely face arrest or other dangers if he appeared publicly in the capital Tripoli. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Educated at the London School of Economics and a fluent English speaker, Saif al-Islam was once seen by many governments as the acceptable and friendly face of the West of Libya, and a possible heir apparent.

But when a rebellion broke out in 2011 against the long rule of Moammar Gadhafi, Saif al-Islam immediately chose family and clan loyalties over his many friends in the West, telling Reuters television: “We fought here in Libya; we died here in Libya”.

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