Libya’s election commission said on Wednesday that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the former ruler and a strong candidate in December’s planned presidential election, was ineligible to run, compounding the turmoil surrounding the vote.
Gaddafi was one of 25 candidates that the commission disqualified in an initial decision pending an appeals process that will ultimately be decided by the judiciary. Ninety-eight Libyans registered as candidates.
Disputes over the election rules, including the legal basis of the vote and who should be eligible to stand, threaten to derail an internationally backed peace process aimed at ending a decade of factional chaos.
The military prosecutor in Tripoli had urged the commission to rule out Gaddafi after his conviction in absentia on war crimes charges in 2015 for his part in fighting the revolution that toppled his father, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011. Gaddafi has denied wrongdoing.
Some of the other candidates initially approved by the commission have also been accused by political rivals of possible violations of the election rules.
One candidate, interim prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, had vowed not to run for president as a condition of taking on his present role, and did not stand down from that role three months before the vote, as is required by a contested election law.
Another prominent candidate, eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, is said to have US nationality, which could also rule him out. Many people in western Libya also accuse him of war crimes committed during his 2019-20 assault on Tripoli. Haftar denies war crimes and says he is not a US citizen.
Dbeibeh has described as “flawed” the election rules issued in September by the parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, who is also a candidate.
UN Libya envoy Ján Kubiš, who is stepping down from his post, told the UN security council on Wednesday that Libya’s judiciary would make the final decision on the rules and on whether candidates were eligible.
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