Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to run for Libya’s president

The son of the late Libyan ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, registered yesterday to run in the country’s presidential polls next month, the electoral commission said.

The 49-year-old, who is wanted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC), appeared in an electoral commission video in traditional brown robe and turban, and with a grey beard and glasses, signing documents at the election centre in the southern town of Sebha.

After a decade in various forms of detention, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi surfaces in Sebha, southern Libya, to submit his candidacy papers for presidential elections scheduled for next month.

“Saif al-Islam Gaddafi submitted… his candidacy for the presidential election to the High National Electoral Commission office in the city of Sebha,” said a statement by the commission.

Gaddafi had completed “all the required legal conditions”, the statement read, adding that he was issued with a voter registration card for the Sebha district.

Libya’s first ever direct presidential poll, with a first round on December 24, is the climax of a process launched last year by the United Nations to draw a line under years of violence since the revolt that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Libya opened registration for candidates today.

Gaddafi 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 parliament speaker Aguila Saleh.

However, while his name is one of the best known in Libya, and though he once played a major role in shaping policy before the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that destroyed his family’s regime, he has barely been seen for a decade.

In June, sources close to Saif al-Islam said he was planning a political comeback. In July, he told the New York Times in an interview that he wanted to “restore the lost unity” of Libya after a decade of chaos and did not exclude standing for the presidency.

Until the interview, Saif al-Islam had not been seen or heard from since June 2014, when he appeared via video link from Zintan, in the west of the country, during his trial by a Tripoli court.

His father was overthrown and killed in 2011 in a NATO-backed uprising that has left the country in a state of upheaval ever since.

During the uprising, Saif al-Islam became for many the face of the government’s defiance, regularly denouncing the opposition as “terrorists” and promising that his father’s administration would “fight to the last minute, until the last bullet”.

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