LIbya – The registration of Seif al-Islam Kadhafi, the son of the late dictator Moamer Kadhafi, to compete in next month’s presidential election has divided Libyans. Libya’s first-ever direct presidential election, with a first round on December 24, would be the conclusion of a UN-led process that began last year in an attempt to put an end to years of conflict following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
“I feel Seif’s nomination is unjust because, in addition to being a controversial figure, he is still wanted by the International Criminal Court and is the subject of multiple court judgments.” According to local Tripoli resident Nizar al-Hadi. “If Libyans welcome Seif, we will forget about the past. I believe he can succeed and Libya can develop if there is a general amnesty and only significant matters, such as public money and war crimes, are addressed, rather than internal issues and vengeance.”
According to the election commission, Seif al-Islam, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the NATO-backed revolution, completed “all the essential legal prerequisites” on Sunday. “Seif al-Islam Kadhafi submitted… his presidential candidacy to the High National Electoral Commission office in the city of Sebha,” it said in a statement. The 49-year-old, who sported a salt-and-pepper beard, was seen on video reading a verse from the Koran and thanking those who assisted him by adding, “God bless you.”
According to the committee, Seif al-Islam was observed wearing a traditional bedouin robe and headgear. A voter registration card for the Sebha district in the south was issued to him. On Monday, candidates for Libya’s presidential and parliamentary elections began registering. Both elections are set for December 24, but parliament split the dates by deferring legislative elections until early January.
Foreign powers have pushed hard for both elections to be held on the same day, as agreed to during UN-led talks last year. For months, rumors have circulated that Seif al-Islam, who was sentenced to death by a Tripoli court in 2017 for crimes committed during the rebellion, could run for president. In July, Seif al-Islam emerged from the shadows, informing The New York Times that he was considering a political return. He declared in a rare interview that he wants to “restore the lost unity” of Libya after a decade of instability.
“I’ve been separated from the Libyan people for the past ten years. As if it were a striptease, I moved slowly. You should aim to wreak havoc on their minds.” According to the newspaper, he added. Seif al-Islam had not been seen or heard from since his trial in Tripoli in June 2014, when he appeared via video link from Zintan in western Libya. Despite the fact that he was sentenced to death by the court in his absence, he was pardoned by a rival administration in the east, a decision that Tripoli authorities never confirmed.