Libya’s electoral board said on Wednesday that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the former ruler’s son and a leading candidate in the planned presidential election in December, was ineligible to run, adding to the confusion surrounding the poll.
An initial ruling by the panel excluded Gaddafi, one of 25 applicants, and the final decision will be made by the court. Candidates from Libya totaled 98.
Unresolved disagreements over election regulations, especially the legal foundation for voting and who should be eligible for candidacy, threaten to undermine an internationally supported peace process intended to bring an end to a decade of deadly factional instability.
Gaddafi was declared ineligible by the commission because he had been convicted of a felony. After being found guilty of war crimes committed during the 2011 revolt against his father Muammar Gaddafi, he was sentenced to death by a Tripoli court in 2015.
In that trial, he appeared by videolink from Zintan, where he was being detained by rebels who had abducted him while attempting to flee Libya after the fall of his father. He has denied any misconduct.
Nouri Abusahmain, a member of parliament, and former premier Ali Zeidan were both barred from the race.
Politicians’ competitors have levelled allegations of probable ethics violations against some of the commission’s authorised candidates, including several who appear to be frontrunners.
Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, the interim prime minister, promised not to run for president as a condition of accepting office, but he did not resign three months before the election as required under a contentious election law.
Also, eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, a leading contender, is believed to be a citizen of the United States, which would put him out of the running. He is also accused of war crimes in western Libya, where he launched his attack on Tripoli in 2019.
Haftar claims he is not a citizen of the United States and denies any wrongdoing. “Flawed” election regulations set by parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, who is a candidate, have been slammed by Dbeibah.
According to Jan Kubis, the United Nations’ departing Libya ambassador, the Libyan court would have the last say on the regulations and whether or not candidates are eligible.