Forum says Saif al-Islam Gadhafi may run in a fraudulent election as rebels settle former ruler’s family affairs
The son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi, who is in prison in Libya, has run as a presidential candidate, apparently to legitimise his father’s regime ahead of a new election.
Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who is wanted by the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague, opened his campaign in the capital, Tripoli, wearing a suit and tie, and addressing a cheering crowd of supporters.
The move was condemned by the US and France, the two countries that opposed the Gadhafi regime. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Saif al-Islam on two counts of crimes against humanity in 2011.
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Libya is torn between rival governments and armed factions, with several thousand people killed in recent months. Security officials in Libya have said the rival two governing coalitions were both courting Saif al-Islam to join their respective administrations, and that he was being groomed for the post of president.
In Libya’s chaotic post-Gadhafi era, there are signs of political and economic turmoil in the country with no functioning national government.
Saif al-Islam made a brief appearance at a campaign rally and handed out posters of himself. He said he accepted responsibility for his father’s regime and also accused his opponents of being infidels.
“This party in Libya is the Saif al-Islam party … it is the only party that is governing and speaking about the revolution, and it is the only one with the dignity of the Libyan people,” he said, to a rapturous crowd chanting “long live Muammar!”
The official electoral commission did not immediately respond to an email about whether Saif al-Islam had been included on its list of presidential candidates. However, an editorial in the state-owned newspaper El Khabar, quoting elections director general Abdulghani al-Mahdi, said it would guarantee the legitimacy of the election.
“The election is not about voting for Saif al-Islam. It is an election that is about giving legitimacy to the democracy. It is an election that secures security and the good life,” the newspaper said.
In June, Saif al-Islam was sentenced to death in absentia for his role in the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising. The verdict angered the international community, including the ICC, which wanted to see him tried in the court in The Hague.