Libya: Son of Muammar Gaddafi announces candidacy for country's presidential elections next month

·2-min read

The son of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi has announced his candidacy for the country's presidential elections next month.

Seif al-Islam submitted his candidacy papers in the southern town of Sabha, 650km (400 miles) south of the capital of Tripoli, the High National Elections Commission said in a statement.

He is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity related to the 2011 uprising that saw his father toppled after more than 40 years in power.

Muammar Gaddafi was later killed amid the ensuing civil war, and his son captured by fighters.

Seif al-Islam, who was seen as the reformist face of Gadhafi's regime before the uprising, was released in June 2017 after more than five years of detention.

He has appeared for the first time in public in five years in a video shared by an election official following the announcement of his candidacy bid.

Wearing a traditional Libyan robe, turban and spectacles, the 49-year-old spoke to the camera and said that God will decide the right path for the country's future.

His candidacy is likely to stir controversy across the divided country.

Political parties and the UN have failed to unite the country since the 2011 violence left Libya split between rival governments - one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the eastern part of the country.

Seif al-Islam is also a divisive figure as he is wanted by the ICC over crimes allegedly committed in the first weeks of the uprising.

ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah declined to comment on Seif al-Islam's candidacy, saying the court "does not comment on political issues".

Gaddafi's son, who has deep-rooted links to tribes across Libya, is the first major presidential hopeful to submit his candidacy to run for the country's highest post.

Also widely expected to announce their bids are powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter, parliament speaker Agila Saleh and former interior minister Fathi Bashaga.

Abdel-Rahman el-Swahili, a lawmaker from Misrata, voiced his rejection of Seif al-Islam's candidacy, saying that Gaddafi's son should be prosecuted not running for president.

"Those who believe in the possibility of Libya's returning to the era of dictatorship after all these sacrifices, are delusional," he wrote on Facebook.

The election agency began the registration process for presidential and parliamentary hopefuls last week.

Seif al-Islam's candidacy came after an international conference in Paris on Friday expressed support for holding "free, fair, inclusive and credible presidential and parliamentary elections" on 24 December.

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