Libya’s election commission said on Wednesday that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the former ruler’s son and a key candidate in December’s presidential election, was ineligible for the election, sparking turmoil over the vote.
Gaddafi was one of 25 candidates who disqualified in a preliminary decision pending an appeals process that would eventually be decided by the judiciary. Some 98 Libyans are registered as candidates.
Disputes over election rules, including the legal basis for the vote and who should be eligible to stand, threaten to derail an internationally backed peace process aimed at ending a decade of factional chaos.
The military prosecutor in Tripoli urged the commission to dismiss Gaddafi after he pleaded guilty in absentia to war crimes charges in 2015 for his role in fighting the revolution that overthrew his father Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. He has denied wrongdoing.
Some of the other candidates initially approved by the commission were also accused of possible violations by political rivals.
Interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dabiba vowed not to run for president as a condition of carrying out his current role, and was not required by law to contest the election three months before the vote.
Another leading candidate, Eastern Commander Khalifa Haftar, is said to have American nationality, which may also exclude him. Many in western Libya also accuse him of war crimes committed during their 2019-20 attack on Tripoli.
Haftar denied war crimes and said he was not a US citizen. Dabibah has called the election rules “flawed” issued in September by parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, who is also a candidate.
UN Libyan envoy Jan Kubis, who is stepping down, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the Libyan judiciary would make a final decision on the rules and whether candidates were eligible.