The son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi registered as a presidential candidate Sunday in the elections scheduled for December, as disputes rage over the rules of a vote proposed as a way to end a decade of violence.
Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, 49, appeared in social media photos in traditional dress, signing documents at an electoral center in the southern city of Sebha. An official confirmed that he had signed up.
Gaddafi is one of the most prominent personalities expected for the presidential election. The list of potential candidates also includes the eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, the country’s prime minister, Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibeh, and the speaker of parliament, Aguila Saleh.
Despite public support from most Libyan factions and foreign powers for the December 24 elections, the vote is still uncertain as rival entities vie for the rules and timing.
A major conference in Paris on Friday agreed to sanction any party that disrupts or prevents the vote, but with less than six weeks to go, there is still no agreement on the rules to be followed who should be able to stand.
Gaddafi will likely play on nostalgia for the time before the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that swept his father from power and ushered in a decade of chaos and violence, but analysts say he might not be a favorite .
Many Libyans remember the Gaddafi era as a harsh autocracy, and Saif al-Islam and other figures of the former regime have been in power for so long that they can struggle to garner so much support. than their main rivals.
Opposition fighters captured and shot Muammar Gaddafi outside his hometown of Sirte in October 2011 and shot him dead.
Saif al-Islam remains something of a figure for many Libyans, having spent the last decade out of public sight since his capture that same month by fighters in the mountainous Zintan region.
He gave an interview to the New York Times earlier this year, but has yet to make any public appearances speaking directly to Libyans.
A Tripoli court tried him in absentia in 2015, when he appeared by video link from Zintan, and sentenced him to death for war crimes, including the murder of protesters during the 2011 uprising.
He would likely face arrest or other danger if he appeared publicly in the capital Tripoli. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court.
Trained at the London School of Economics and fluent in English, Saif al-Islam was once considered by many governments to be the acceptable and pro-West face of Libya, and a possible heir apparent.
However, when a rebellion erupted in 2011 against Muammar Gaddafi’s long reign, Saif al-Islam immediately chose family and clan loyalty over his many friendships in the West.
“We are fighting here in Libya; we are dying here in Libya, ”he said.