CAIRO – The son and one-time heir of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi announced his candidacy in next month’s presidential election on Sunday, the Libyan electoral agency said.
Seif al-Islam, wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity linked to the 2011 uprising, presented his candidacy papers in the southern city of Sabha, 650 kilometers (400 miles) south of the capital Tripoli. The National Electoral High Commission said in a statement.
Gaddafi’s son was captured by fighters in the city of Zintan in late 2011, the year in which a popular uprising, backed by NATO, overthrew his father after more than 40 years in power. Moammar Gaddafi was subsequently killed during subsequent fighting which would turn into a civil war.
In a video shared by an election official, Seif al-Islam addressed the camera, saying that God will decide the right path for the country’s future. He wore a traditional Libyan dress and turban and spectacles. It was the first time in years that Seif al-Islam had appeared in public.
Seif al-Islam, who was considered the reformist face of the Gaddafi regime prior to the 2011 uprising, was released in June 2017 after more than five years in detention. In July he told the New York Times in an exclusive interview that he was considering a run for the top of the country. His candidacy risks sparking controversy throughout the divided country.
Seif al-Islam is wanted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the first weeks of the 2011 uprising.
ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah declined to comment on Seif al-Islam’s candidacy.
“The court does not comment on political issues, as there is a pending arrest warrant on the legal side and that hasn’t changed,” he said.
Gaddafi’s son, who has deep-rooted ties to tribes across Libya, is the first great presidential hope to run his candidacy to run for the top office in the country.Also widely expected to announce their offers are the mighty commander military Khalifa Hifter, the President of the Parliament Agila Saleh and the former Minister of the Interior Fathi Bashaga.
Last week, the electoral agency started the process of registering candidates for presidency and parliament. Potential candidates have until November 22 to register to run for the highest office in the country, while aspiring MPs have until December 31. 7 to register your candidacies.
Libya will hold presidential elections next December. 24, after years of UN-led attempts to usher in a more democratic future and end the country’s war. After the overthrow and killing of Gaddafi, oil-rich Libya has spent most of the last decade between rival governments, one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the eastern part of the country.
The announcement came after an international conference in Paris on Friday expressed its support for holding “free, fair, inclusive and credible presidential and parliamentary elections” on 12 December. 24.
The long-awaited vote still faces some challenges, including unresolved issues over electoral laws and occasional infighting between armed groups. Other obstacles include the deep rift that remains between the east and west of the country, divided for years by the war, and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and troops.
Dictator Gaddafi had eight children, most of whom played significant roles in his regime. His son Muatassim was killed at the same time Gaddafi was captured and killed. Two other sons, Seif al-Arab and Khamis, were killed earlier in the uprising. Another son, al-Saadi Gaddafi, was released in September after more than seven years of detention in the capital Tripoli following his extradition from neighboring Niger.
Associated Press author Mike Corder contributed from The Hague, The Netherlands.