Gunmen have stormed a courthouse to block the election commission’s appeal against Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The country’s unanimous government has condemned the incident.
Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi submitted his nomination papers on November 14 as the presidential candidate. Last Wednesday, the Election Commission canceled the nominations of 25 candidates including his nomination papers.
Libya’s election commission says Saif al-Islam has lost his ability to run for president under election law after being convicted of a criminal offense. In 2015, a Tripoli court sentenced Saif al-Islam to death in his absence. He was charged with war crimes during Gaddafi’s rule.
As per the rules, the candidates whose nomination has been canceled have to appeal within 48 hours.
Libya is set to hold presidential elections on December 24. The election is seen as a way to end the ongoing conflict in Libya since the end of the Gaddafi era.
A government statement said a group of “miscreants” carried out a “heinous” attack on a courthouse in the southern city of Sebhar on Thursday morning, hours before Saif al-Islam’s appeal. This forced the court to stop its activities.
The government has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and Justice to investigate the incident.
Saif al-Islam’s lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidi, said the assailants drove all court staff out of the building “at gunpoint” hours before the appeal hearing began. In a video message to the Libyan media, he said it was an obstacle to the electoral process.
Following the incident, the UN mission in Libya, UNSMIL, expressed “panic”. UNSMIL said on Twitter that it strongly condemned any election-related violence. As well as reiterating the commitment to protect the electoral process.
The names of the final candidates will be announced in early December after the verification and final decision of the appeal.
Muammar Gaddafi’s government collapsed in 2011 in the face of a popular uprising. Gaddafi was shot dead after being captured by rebels. Since then, various factions of the country have been fighting against each other. At that moment, Saif al-Islam was the first to flee. He was later arrested and kept in jail. He was later released.