Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar presidential candidate

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A Libyan warlord who led a 14-month assault on the capital and once said the country was not ready for democracy announced his candidacy for his first presidential elections at the end of next month

Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the so-called Libyan National Army, who fought his internationally recognized government in the 2014-2020 civil war, said he wanted to bring the Libyan people “glory, progress and prosperity By joining a competition that also includes the son of the former Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, among his hopes.

Haftar’s base of support is in the east of the country and, if elected, he is unlikely to be accepted by militias in his west who have fought for more than a year for it. prevent the capture of Tripoli.

LNA members believed to be under his command have been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court and he is also the subject of a Virginia court hearing brought by relatives of his alleged victims who claim he ‘he is guilty of war crimes, including starvation. families. Haftar, an American citizen, insists he is not responsible.

He was repeatedly credited with support from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and opposed Turkey, which backed militias defending Tripoli with fighters and weapons.

Haftar announced his candidacy via a televised address from the eastern city of Benghazi, wearing a suit and tie rather than military fatigues and posing as an anti-corruption champion.

“We will change the future of Libya if we place its treasures and riches in the hands of those with integrity,” he said.

“I declare my candidacy for the presidential election, not because I pursue power but because I want to lead our people towards glory, progress and prosperity. “

The 77-year-old, who said elections were the only way out of Libyan chaos, said in an interview with Jeune Afrique published in February 2018 that Libya was not yet ripe for democracy, raising concerns. doubts over how long Libya would remain a democracy if he won.

His chances of winning, assuming the elections happen, have been reduced by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s decision to announce on Sunday that he was a candidate, as the two men hope in the East to tap into the same pool of voters. Another figure based in the east, the Speaker of the Parliament, Aguila Saleh, is also standing.

Haftar’s candidacy, 40 days before roll-off day, highlights the chaos surrounding the elections, with disputes raging over the qualifications of the candidates, the president’s constitutional powers and the possibility of free elections in a country where so many of while 20,000 foreign forces, including mercenaries, are on the run. There are already reports of campaign teams set up by mercenaries in the east.

But the international community re-engaged in last Friday’s election, and it will likely be up to the United States to decide whether the election will resolve or exacerbate the dissent in Libya. No less than 600 people have applied for the legislative elections and their credentials are currently being checked.

The chaos around the rules is such that the National Election Commission appeared to announce on its website that Gaddafi’s candidacy had been rejected, only to have the post removed moments later. The commission blamed the hacking.

The performance of the UN Special Mission to Libya has been widely criticized in recent months for its lack of leadership, putting enormous pressure on the administration of the Libyan Election Commission, a largely administrative body, to take charge. load a politically charged contest.

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