Libya: Eastern strongman Haftar is running for president

The strong man of eastern Libya Khalifa Haftar ran for the presidential election on Tuesday in December, two days after a son of Muammar Gaddafi, their detractors denouncing authoritarian inclinations that risk torpedoing the country’s passage to the democracy.

“I declare my candidacy for the presidential election, not because I am running after power but to lead our people in this crucial period towards glory, progress and prosperity,” Marshal Haftar said in a speech broadcast in direct from Benghazi, its stronghold.

On September 22, Marshal Haftar, 77, had provisionally retired from his post as head of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (ANL), as stipulated in the electoral law, to be able to run for president on December 24. .

The electoral law in question, criticized by detractors of Marshal Haftar, allows him to run for president and to be able to regain his military post if he is not elected.

The soldier, accused by his opponents of wanting to establish a military dictatorship, is supported by key regional actors involved in the Libyan issue such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

He seeks to seize power at the polls after the resounding failure of his military adventure at the gates of Tripoli, the seat of the UN-recognized government, in 2019.

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, Libya has been plagued by bloody violence and struggles between rival powers in the east and west of the country.

In his speech on Tuesday, Haftar said the December election was “the only way to get Libya out of chaos”.

– “A turning point” –

Photo taken on January 17, 2020 shows Libyan Marshal Khalifa Haftar during talks in Athens with the Greek Foreign Minister (AFP / Archives – ARIS MESSINIS)

“Libya is today at a turning point. Either it opts for freedom and independence, or for corruption and chaos,” he added.

After his speech, he was to go to an office of the High Electoral Commission (HNEC) to formally submit his candidacy.

According to Wolfram Lacher, an expert on Libya from the German SWP institute, the forces led by Haftar “have been by far the main perpetrators of war crimes since 2014 and they could use violence to influence the elections”.

Marshal Haftar’s candidacy comes two days after that of Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, wanted by the International Criminal Court for “crimes against humanity”. Besides MM. Haftar and Kadhafi, four other little-known candidates have so far applied.

In 2019, Marshal Haftar, who controls the east and part of the south of the country, launched his fighters to conquer Tripoli (west), then the seat of a unity government recognized by the UN. Its troops were pushed back in June 2020 by rival forces aided militarily by Turkey.

At the time, the soldier presented himself as a “savior” of Libya, describing his opponents as “terrorists” or “mercenaries”.

His rivals accused him of wanting to establish a military dictatorship in this oil country in North Africa, in the grip of chaos.

His failure to conquer the capital was followed by the signing of a ceasefire in October 2020 and, above all, the installation in March 2021 under the auspices of the UN of a government responsible for carrying out the transition by the December elections.

A photo posted on the Libya Election Commission Facebook page shows Seif al-Islam, the son of ex-dictator Muammar Gaddafi, submitting his presidential candidacy at an office in Sebha in southern Libya on the 14th. November 2021 (libyan High National Electoral Comission FB Page / AFP - STRINGER)
A photo posted on the Libya Election Commission Facebook page shows Seif al-Islam, the son of ex-dictator Muammar Gaddafi, submitting his presidential candidacy at an office in Sebha in southern Libya on the 14th. November 2021 (libyan High National Electoral Comission FB Page / AFP – STRINGER)

Dignitaries in several cities called on Monday for a boycott of the presidential election and polling stations – where voters withdraw their cards – closed in the west of the country under pressure from groups hostile to Seif al’s candidacy. -Islam Gaddafi and that of Marshal Haftar even before the formalization of the latter.

At an international conference in Paris on Friday, the international community called for the holding of “inclusive” and “credible” elections in December in Libya, threatening sanctions on all those who stand in the way.


Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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