Libyan interim prime minister registers candidacy for president

TRIPOLI: Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah registered as a candidate for president on Sunday, despite swearing not to do so as a condition of his current position and despite contested election rules that could deter him from running for office to set.

Dbeibah’s participation in a race that now sees many of Libya’s key players from the past decade of chaos adds to turmoil over a vote due in five weeks but on which no rules have yet been agreed.

Parliamentary and presidential elections on December 24 were demanded by a UN political forum last year as part of a roadmap to end Libya’s civil war, a process that also led to the formation of Dbeibah’s interim unity government. .

Libya has seen little stability since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi as the country split between numerous armed groups. The government was split in 2014 between warring rival governments in the east and west.

However, electoral disputes threaten to derail the UN-backed peace process launched last year after the collapse of an eastern military offensive to capture the capital, Tripoli.

The elections are being organized under a law passed by Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh in September that sets the first round of presidential elections on December 24, but has postponed parliamentary elections until January or February.

Dbeibah and some key political figures and groups in western Libya have criticized Saleh’s electoral law, saying it was passed incorrectly, and called for both votes to be postponed until the rules are agreed.

The Electoral Commission and Libyan courts are likely to rule on candidates’ eligibility in the coming weeks – a process that could itself lead to new disputes.


Dbeibah is likely to lead the election after implementing a series of populist spending measures in recent months, including infrastructure projects and payments to support young newlyweds.

The 63-year-old comes from one of Libya’s wealthiest business families, but he was not a prominent figure in his own right before the UN political forum chose him to head the interim government overseeing the run-up to the elections.

As prime minister, he has pledged investment in Libyan regions neglected in the past decade of chaos, signed major contracts with countries involved on both sides of the civil war, and courted young people with financial backing.

He has not yet said publicly why he chose to break the televised promise he made when he was appointed that he would not play a part in the election.

Saleh’s law could also exclude him as a candidate because he has to resign from office three months before the vote, which he has not done.

His best-known rivals include Gaddafi’s son and one-time heir apparent Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the commander of the eastern forces in the civil war Khalifa Haftar, and Saleh himself.

Gaddafi and Haftar are both charged with war crimes, which they deny, and would be considered unacceptable after years of warfare in parts of Libya.


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