The strong powers of Libya like to win easily in machine gun bursts, regardless of the law or with the weapon of the judiciary that issues death sentences against the top candidate. After the exclusion from the electoral race for the presidential elections (but the last word is not said) of Seif el Islam, the smartest son of Colonel Gaddafi at the head of all the polls, the torpedo against the strong man of Cyrenaica has started, Khalifa Haftar. The military prosecutor of Misrata, the Libyan Sparta which considers him the number one public enemy, sentenced the general to death. A star-studded magistrate issued an arrest warrant for a series of air strikes launched between 2019 and 2020 when Haftar’s self-proclaimed army besieged Tripoli with the aim of taking over the capital. The clockwork death sentence concerns the bombing of the Misrata Air Force Academy in August 2019, which allegedly resulted in only one death.
The move is specious and aims to cut the legs of Haftar’s candidacy in the increasingly uphill presidential elections, scheduled for December 24th. “Behind there are the Muslim Brotherhood, who want to blow up the vote with the support of Turkey,” explains one of our antennas in Tripoli. The controversial electoral law provides for the exclusion of the candidacy in the event of a criminal conviction. The same tool used to take Gaddafi’s son out of the elections. His lawyer, Khaled al Zaydi, however, stressed that according to Article 10, the sentence must be final. Impossible that it will be in a few hours for Haftar and even less for Seif el Islam, who pulled out his criminal record as immaculate as a sheet. Yesterday the lawyer, as required by law, tried to appeal to Sebha, in southern Libya where Gaddafi’s son had presented the candidacy. Another twist to the Libyan scene: Haftar’s soldiers intervened arms in hand in the judicial offices to prevent the presentation of the appeal. The general sees the candidacy of Seif el Islam as smoke in the eye, aware that he would lose many votes, even in his fiefdom in Cyrenaica, in favor of Gaddafi’s heir.
The National Electoral High Commission yesterday published a preliminary list of 73 candidates admitted to the presidential elections. In addition to the colonel’s son, 24 other characters were excluded such as former premier Ali Zeidan and Bashir Saleh who had been Gaddafi’s secretary. The strong candidates admitted, for now, are incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeiba and General Haftar paired in the polls. Dbeiba also likes to win easy: to stand as a candidate he would have had to resign as head of government three months ago. At least Haftar has formally left command of the troops in the trusted hands of his deputy. The former Minister of the Interior, Fathi Bashagha, is the candidate close to the Muslim Brotherhood “but in the polls he is very detached” explains the source of the newspaper. “If the elections were at least free and fair – he adds – Gaddafi’s son would win with 70% of the votes”. As long as he can show up at the polls and get there alive.