(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –The son of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi appeared for nearly the first time in a decade on Sunday to register as a presidential candidate for a December vote planned to help end the years of chaos since his father was toppled.
Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, 49, appeared in an electoral commission video in traditional brown robe and turban, and with a grey beard and glasses, signing documents at the election centre in the southern town of Sebha.
Gaddafi is one of the most prominent – and controversial – figures expected to run for president, a list that also includes eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah and parliament speaker Aguila Saleh.
But while his name is one of the best known in Libya, and though he once played a major role in shaping policy before the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that destroyed his family’s regime, he has barely been seen for a decade.
The only public sight of him that his fellow Libyans have had since he was captured during the fighting in 2011 was when he appeared via videolink before a Tripoli court that sentenced him to death for war crimes.
Despite that ruling, he never left the mountainous Zintan region, beyond the writ of the Tripoli authorities, where his captors later allowed him to go free.
His formal entry into an election whose rules are still contested by Libya’s squabbling factions may also cast new questions over a contest that features candidates viewed in some regions as unacceptable.
Libya’s military prosecutor, answerable to the unity government’s defence ministry in Tripoli, confirmed it had written to the electoral commission to demand it put Gaddafi’s candidacy on pause.
Despite the public backing of most Libyan factions and foreign powers for elections on Dec. 24, the vote remains in doubt as rival entities bicker over the rules and schedule.