Seif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, 49, appeared in social media photos in a traditional brown dress and turban, and with a gray beard and glasses, signing documents at the electoral center in the southern city of Sebha. An official confirmed that he had signed up. Gaddafi is the first great presidential hopeful to submit his presidential candidacy. Eastern military commander Khalifa Hifter, parliament speaker Agila Saleh and former interior minister Fathi Bashaga are also widely expected to announce their offers.
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 anyone who disrupts or prevents the vote, but with less than six weeks to go, there is still no agreement on the rules governing who should be able to stand.
While 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, analysts say he might not be. turn out to be a favorite.
The Gaddafi era is still remembered by many Libyans as that of a harsh autocracy, while Seif al-Islam and other figures of the old regime have been in power for so long that they may find it difficult to mobilize as much support as their main rivals.
Muammar Gaddafi was captured outside his hometown of Sirte by opposition fighters in October 2011 and summarily shot dead.
His son Seif 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.
Tried in absentia for war crimes
Complicating his presidential ambitions, Gaddafi was tried in absentia in 2015 by a Tripoli court before which he appeared via a video link from Zintan, and which sentenced him to death for war crimes, including the murder of protesters during the revolt of 2011.
He was released in June 2017 after more than five years of detention in Zintan.
Seif al-Islam would likely face arrest or other dangers if he appeared publicly in the capital Tripoli. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the first weeks of the 2011 uprising.
ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah declined to comment on Seif al-Islam’s candidacy.
“The Court does not comment on political questions, because for the legal side, there is an arrest warrant pending and that has not changed,” he said.
Trained at the London School of Economics and fluent in English, Seif al-Islam was once considered by many governments to be the acceptable and pro-West face of Libya, and a possible heir apparent.
But when a rebellion erupted in 2011 against Muammar Gaddafi’s long rule, Seif al-Islam immediately chose family and clan loyalty over his many friendships in the West, telling Reuters television: “We are fighting here in Libya. ; we are dying here in Libya. “