Libyan elections... ICC and judiciary allow Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to fight the presidential race
A judicial decision to return Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to the presidential race (Photo by STRINGER / libyan High National Electoral Comission FB Page / AFP)

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was able to obtain a judicial decision from an appeals court in Sebha that will return him to the list of candidates for the Libyan presidential elections scheduled for December 24, if the decision finds its way to implementation.

Gaddafi, who was excluded by the High Electoral Commission on November 24, may return to compete for the presidency of the country that his father ruled for decades before the Libyans revolted against him in 2011.

The exclusion of Gaddafi, 49, by the commission, was due to his violation of Article 10 of the law, which states that the candidate must not have been subjected to final judicial rulings for a felony or crime, as he was sentenced to death in 2015 after being convicted of “war crimes.” “To suppress the uprising that toppled his father’s regime, but the ruling was not implemented, and in 2017, he was released according to the general amnesty law.


This judicial decision confuses the papers, and while observers see that it is not final, others indicate that it is too late to appeal, which actually paves the way for Saif al-Islam’s participation in the presidential race.

A chance to compete

Political analyst, Ahmed Al-Mahdawi, said in statements seen by The Eastern Herald that he believes that “the court’s ruling is not final because it came from a court of the first instance, but it is not possible to return to the door of appeals against decisions because the door of appeals has been closed by the Commission.”

He believes that “Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has an opportunity to compete for the presidency, especially after the return of the adults, and here we are talking about a very strong competition between Khalifa Haftar, Saif al-Islam, and Abdel Hamid al-Dabaiba.”

Al-Mahdawi asserts, “The Libyan people are more aware of what is happening now, and they are the ones who will decide who will be the president of Libya.”

He added, “The Libyan people have absorbed the political events around them, and there will be no transgression against the will of the people, because they are the sovereign, so the elections will witness the strong competition.”

Healthy Sharing

Libyan political analyst, Hafez Al-Ghweil, based in the United States, said in response to seen by The Eastern Herald that “Saif Al-Islam’s return to the elections and the political track is a very positive thing, because it brings with him the supporters of the former regime, to participate in the decision of the future of Libya.”

He added that this is “politically healthy for any country with the participation of all opposition spectrums to become part of the country’s political system.”

It is to be noted that on 24, November 2021, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, has informed the UN Security Council that he has withdrawn from the case of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, which has been before the court since 2011; This is to ensure the availability of neutrality.

He pointed out that the Sebha Court’s decision, which was issued “is not final” and the Commission may appeal it, “but it is not in anyone’s interest during the current period to waste time, especially since many of those who were excluded by the Commission have returned to the list of candidates for the elections, and there is no need to exclude people or streams in what may impede the participation of Everyone in the elections, as he put it.

Al-Ghwell believes that Saif al-Islam has a “real chance” to compete in the elections, as he has many supporters who represent a wide section of the Libyans, as he still lives on the legacy of his father, who ruled the country for more than four decades in which he established many alliances with tribes and clans in the country.

He points out that Saif al-Islam has supporters in the eastern region, where his mother belongs to a large family, in addition to belonging to a large family stationed in the center of the country.

He believes that after a decade of wars, Libyans may view Saif al-Islam differently than they did 10 years ago.

Ongoing prosecutions

The Libyan political analyst, Adel Abdel Kafi, explained to The Eastern Herald that it is still possible to appeal the court’s decision, especially in light of a final judicial decision criminalizing Saif al-Islam with war crimes, so there are legal obstacles that may remain to chase him even outside Libya.

He added that there is a large segment of Libyans still hoping to pursue Saif al-Islam for what he committed during the revolution against the Libyan people.

He believes that even with his return to the list of candidates, judicial prosecutions will continue to pursue him, not only alone but may also pursue other candidates such as Haftar.

Judicial Decisions

On Thursday, an appeals court in southern Libya ruled the country to return Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to the list of candidates for the elections, after it accepted an appeal submitted by him to the decision to exclude him from this list.

Gaddafi’s circles confirmed to AFP the news, which was reported by local media, citing multiple sources.

Khaled Al-Zaidi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s lawyer, confirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal, and the annulment of the Electoral Commission’s decision to exclude his client.

And accounts on social media reported scenes of celebrations organized by a number of supporters and supporters of Saif al-Islam in front of the court building, expressing their joy at his return to the list of candidates for the elections.

Before submitting his candidacy papers in Sebha last October, the appearance and location of Saif al-Islam remained ambiguous for years, and he kept his movements secret to a large extent, probably for fear of exposure to him, especially since he was one of the most prominent pillars of his father’s regime against which the Libyans turned.

An armed group had arrested Saif al-Islam at the end of 2011 and transferred him to the city of Zintan in the west of the country, before he was brought to trial before the Libyan judiciary, where he was sentenced to death in 2015, but was released in 2017.

Big Competition

A large number of prominent personalities in Libya presented for the presidential elections, during which voters will choose for the first time in their history a president through direct voting.

At the head of these figures is Haftar, the strongman in the east of the country, along with Abdel Hamid Dabaiba, head of the interim government, and Aqila Saleh, speaker of the House of Representatives.

Next week, the final list of candidates is expected to be announced after the appeals stage ends.

Elimination Threat

The process of judicial appeal submitted by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to the decision to exclude him, witnessed rounds of threats and the siege of the Sebha Appeals Court building.

The siege of the court building by armed groups, said to belong to forces loyal to Haftar, the rival candidate, Saif al-Islam, continued for a week.

And the media reported information, the authenticity of which could not be verified, about preventing judges from entering the court, and threatening them with exposure if they were present.

These groups withdrew during the past two days from the court’s vicinity, and the judiciary was allowed to complete the appeal.

The United Nations expressed its concern about putting pressure on the judiciary, which considers electoral appeals, respecting the judiciary’s decisions and enabling it to carry out its duties, in addition to providing a safe environment for elections.

The court’s decision coincides with the announcement by the High National Elections Commission on Thursday that a number of electoral centers were subjected to “security violations” during the twenty-four hours.

The commission confirmed in a press statement that a number of electoral centers were subjected to armed robbery and the theft of several thousand voter cards.

A political dialogue between the Libyan parties, under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva last February, led to the formation of a unified executive political authority with the task of preparing for the presidential and parliamentary elections, which were set respectively in December and January.

However, the continuing tension on the ground casts doubt on the organization of these elections.

Questions were raised at the United Nations on Wednesday about the integrity of the presidential elections scheduled in Libya after three weeks, with the Secretary-General of the International Organization stressing that this entitlement should not be “part of the problem” and the UN Security Council’s president questioning the availability of the necessary conditions for holding democratic elections.

“We want these elections to be part of the solution, not part of the problem” in Libya, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a press conference.


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