Fears of cloning the previous system.. What are Libyans counting on to cut off the presidential path in front of Saif Gaddafi and Haftar?

Tripoli – The candidacy of retired Major General Khalifa Haftar and Saif al-Gaddafi in the presidential elections sparked widespread anger and opposition in Libya, due to their involvement in widespread human rights violations, and their prosecution in files that were considered “war crimes”.

The presidential elections in Libya are scheduled to be held in two rounds; The first begins on December 24, and the second coincides with the parliamentary elections, 52 days later, according to what was announced by the High Electoral Commission.

Libyan protesters in various cities – including Tripoli, Al-Zawiya, Gharyan and Misrata – closed the polling stations of the High Electoral Commission, to pressure it to reject the candidacy of Saif Gaddafi and Haftar for the presidential elections.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi during the registration of his candidacy for the presidential elections scheduled for December 24 next (Reuters)

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Saif Gaddafi is one of the well-known figures among Libyans and the most visible on the political scene before the revolution that overthrew his father, leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and after he put forward the “Libya of Tomorrow” project, which was a political, economic and social project that his father implemented from its beginnings.

Seif al-Islam, 49, has played important roles in Libyan public affairs since 2000, without ever having had a position. He led negotiations on behalf of his father with foreign parties, during which he was able to settle some thorny issues. In addition, he spoke more than once about political and economic reform in Libya in an attempt to deviate from his father’s path.

Saif al-Islam – the second son of Colonel Gaddafi from his second wife Safia Farkash – is considered a fund for his father’s sensitive files, including the “Lockerbie file” in which Libya was accused of shooting down a plane over Scotland in 1988.

He also contributed to solving the Libyan nuclear program file and restoring relations between Libya and the United States in 2004, in addition to playing a role in the case of the “Bulgarian nurses” released in 2007.

Saif Gaddafi was seen as the next successor to his father, despite his declaration in 2008 that he was indifferent to the rule, but Libyan parties believe that his positions and statements – even if they differed with his father’s political approach – were aimed at saving the colonel’s regime and polishing his image before the West.

Libyan rebels arrested Saif Gaddafi in August 2011, and a court in Tripoli ruled in absentia that he was executed by firing squad in 2015, but the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Brigade, which detained him and cut off his finger, released him in 2017, and he became free and hid for years.

Saif Gaddafi is running in the presidential race – if his candidacy is not challenged – and he is being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court on charges of committing crimes against humanity in 2011, and faces an arrest warrant from the Military Prosecutor on charges related to human rights violations.

Major General Khalifa Haftar is running for the presidency in Libya despite being accused of human rights violations and war crimes (Reuters)

Khalifa Haftar

Retired Major General Khalifa Haftar reappeared again by announcing his candidacy for the presidential elections, after he stopped his duties and handed them over to his Chief of Staff, Abdel Razzaq Al-Nador, three months before the elections, as stipulated in the President’s Election Law.

The Libyans paint a picture of Haftar as the “bloody man” who was handed over by Muammar Gaddafi to command the ground forces in the war on Chad, in which he plunged the Libyans into a losing war, before his capture from the Chadians and his asylum to America until his return from Virginia during the Libyan revolution in 2011, and his leadership of the war In “Operation Dignity” in the cities of Benghazi and Derna in 2014.

Haftar suffered a resounding loss in 2020 in a war that lasted about a year and a half, which led to his failure to enter the capital, Tripoli, and the return of his forces to his sphere of control in eastern Libya, despite his military support from regional allies, and the mercenaries of the Russian “Wagner” company and others from African countries to His side in the war on the forces of the Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

Haftar’s human rights record is littered with violations documented by human rights organizations since 2014 in Benghazi and Derna, all the way to the battles south of Tripoli, and in Tarhuna, from which the competent bodies are continuously recovering bodies from mass graves, Haftar was accused of being involved with his forces.

Haftar enjoys the support of a number of Arab and Western countries, but his recent contact with Israel and a meeting close to him with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv – according to Israeli newspapers – is considered a significant move ahead of the presidential elections.

Analysts and politicians express their fears of the return of Haftar and Saif Gaddafi, which will contribute to Libya’s return to the square of the conflict, and their participation may cause the elections to be postponed, amid demonstrations and statements refusing to enter the presidential race from municipal councils and military units.

From the school of dictatorship

From his point of view, a member of the Supreme Council of State, Belkacem Debarz, believes that Saif Gaddafi and Haftar “are trying to turn the wheel back and reproduce and reproduce the previous system, and they came from one school that was founded on dictatorship, tyranny and totalitarian rule.”

And Dabers added: “The criteria and conditions that must be met by the candidate will be excluded, as it is not possible for those who are wanted for justice, whether at home or abroad, to contest the elections, and Libya will not be presided over by a war criminal who violated humanitarian law.”

Debars said – to Al-Jazeera Net – that the arrival of a figure who has criminalized the right of the Libyans to power will lead to an era of blood, murder, revenge and continuous conflict.

The Supreme Council of State in Libya approves the presidential and legislative elections lawsThe Supreme Council of State in Libya approves the presidential and legislative elections laws (Al-Jazeera)

guaranteed right

However, Member of Parliament Muhammad al-Abani believes that running for office is a right for every Libyan citizen who wishes to run in the presidential or parliamentary elections, if he meets the conditions.

Al-Abani added – to Al-Jazeera Net – “No one will be among the candidates who violates the conditions, and if the commission violates this in the legislation regulating the elections, the door for appeal is open.”

Abani said that Libya’s interest in democracy, and this requires opening the door for candidacy for everyone who feels qualified and able to serve his country, “and countries have the right to express their opinion on the candidates in a way that serves their interests, including the United States.”

“We will not go back”

On the other hand, a member of the Supreme Council of State, Ahmed Naqi, believes that Libya is on its way to political stability “despite the plots of the haters,” as he put it, and “it will not return to the dark, unhappy past and the rule of tyranny.”

Naqi told Al Jazeera Net: “The people have tasted freedom, and they cannot be satisfied with those who rob them of the gains they reaped from the February 17 revolution, and they will choose their next leaders on whom we rely for the stability of the country.”

The council member believes that the neighboring countries and the major countries have become more insistent on the stability of Libya, to participate in the process of reconstruction and development, and the development of oil and gas, gold and minerals trade, and transit trade to Africa.

Pour oil on the fire

Political analyst Abdullah al-Kabir believes that the candidacy of Saif Gaddafi and Haftar will add more fuel to the fire of the conflict, because there is no national consensus on their candidacy, and that “their presence in this race means the continuation of division and an increase in tension.”

Al-Kabeer said – to Al-Jazeera Net – that there is no interest or future for Libya in the return of personalities from the caves of the painful past, indicating that the bet now is on the progress of collective awareness of the need to finally break with the past to cross towards change.

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