Former Ruthless War General and Son of Gaddafi Clash, Both Target Presidency of Libya.
Libyan war general Khalifa Haftar has declared that he will be running for the nation’s top job in the next elections. In a televised speech, the military commander announced that he will be targeting the nation’s top office in the general elections due to take place next month.
Haftar, who is expected to formally register with the national electoral commission on Tuesday announced remarked that elections were the only way out of the crisis the North African country finds itself in.
Haftar has been a controversial figure in the recent political history of Libya. Leader of eastern Libya-based Libyan National Army, Haftar established himself as a formidable foe opposed to the internationally recognized government in Tripoli.
Stationed in the east of the country and backed by Russia, Egypt and the UAE, Haftar conducted multiple military expeditions against the government of national accord stationed in the capital Tripoli including the 14- month long battle for Tripoli.
Military Leader to Political Leader
It appears however that Khalifa Haftar has changed tactics, pursuing the more diplomatic path to get himself into power in Libya.
In September, Haftar provisionally stepped down from his role as the head of the Libyan National Army so as to allow himself contest for the presidency.
The shift has been caused in part by the UN brokered ceasefire between the internationally recognized government and the Libyan National Army. The ceasefire has seen a reduction in hostilities. A couple of months back, a UN- led mission saw the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, a move that was greatly celebrated.
Speaking at the televised address, Haftar emphasized that he was running for office, not because of greed for power, but because he hopes to lead the people of Libya to glory, progress and prosperity.
The electoral process, if held successfully will be a milestone in the recent history of Libya which has been plagued by civil war for the last decade. The announcement of Haftar’ s candidature comes just days after Saif al- Islam Gaddafi, a son to the deposed Libyan leader Muhammar Gaddafi announced and registered himself also eyeing the country’ s top job.
The electoral process comes after a series of international- led mediations have served to quell the fighting that has plagued the nation since the NATO- led invasion toppled the government of former President Gaddafi.
Already, there is high hope in the electoral process and many nations in the West are looking up to it. Already, a conference in Paris saw agreement to sanction whoever disrupted the unfolding electoral process.
Despite the best efforts by the West and the UN, the Libyan election already to close observers seems plagued by challenges. There have already been disputes over who can stand and the legal basis of the polls.
Close observers have noted that the electoral process and the brokered ceasefire that have enabled it are all operating on shaky ground. On Monday, head of the unity government Abdulhamid Dbeibah noted that the electoral process was facing huge problems over this lack of consensus.
There is also wide spread fear that Haftar’ s forces, that have been accused of perpetrating war crimes and still remain in control of much of eastern and southern Libya may use intimidation tactics to influence the electoral process.
In any case, Haftar still remains a very controversial figure on the Libyan political scene, with several accusing him of commandeering egregious war crimes and human rights violations at the peak of his military offensive, accusations he continues to deny.
Observers have also noted that while the electoral process may proceed, there is no guaranteed that either side will respect the electoral outcome should it not be in their favor. It is therefore clear that while the elections are a step forward, the Libyan question is far from being concretely resolved.
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