A COURT in southern Libya on Thursday reinstated Ssif al-Islam Kadhafi, son of slain leader Muammar Gaddafi, as a candidate in next month’s presidential election, Libyan media reported.
He had lodged an appeal earlier in the day at the court in Sebha against the electoral commission’s rejection of his application last month.
The commission had pointed to articles of the electoral law stipulating that candidates ‘must not have been sentenced for a dishonourable crime’ and must present a clean criminal record.
Western officials have talked up a United Nations-led peace process and insist on ‘inclusive’ and ‘credible’ elections starting on December 24 in the North African country, despite serious disputes over how they should be held, and their credibility.
Libya is seeking to move beyond a decade of violence that has rocked the oil-rich nation since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Gaddafi senior in 2011.
Saif al-Islam, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, had registered to run on November 14 but was among 25 candidates whose bids have were rejected by the elections board last week.
It said the 25 had been rejected on legal grounds as well as information from officials including the public prosecutor, a police chief and the head of the passports and citizenship department.
Saif al-Islam had lodged an appeal in Sebha, but last week a ‘group of outlaws’ launched an ‘odious’ attack on the court, forcing it to shut hours before the appeal hearing, the government in Tripoli said.
He was the first heavyweight candidate to sign up for the election, after emerging from years in the shadows and telling The New York Times in July that he was planning a political comeback.
In the rare interview, Saif al-Islam said he wanted to ‘restore the lost unity’ of Libya after a decade of chaos.
He had been sentenced to death by a Tripoli court for crimes committed during the revolt that toppled his father.
A rival administration in eastern Libya later pardoned him.
The ICC has repeatedly asked for him to be handed over for trial for crimes against humanity, specifically ‘murder and persecution’ allegedly committed using state forces across Libya in February 2011.
But Saif al-Islam is far from being the only controversial figure to lodge a bid for the presidency.
Among them is military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls much of eastern and southern Libya. He is hated by many in the west of the country after he launched a year-long assault on Tripoli between 2019-2020.
A Tripoli appeals court on Wednesday rejected two petitions against interim prime minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah’s candidacy.