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BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) – Libya’s highest electoral body on Wednesday disqualified the son and former heir of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi from running for president next month, citing his previous convictions.

The name of Seif al-Islam Gadhafi appeared on a list of ineligible candidates published by the country’s High National Electoral Commission. He will be able to appeal the decision to the court in the coming days.

Seif al-Islam was sentenced to death by a Tripoli court in 2015 for using violence against protesters during an uprising against his father in 2011, but this decision has since been called into question by rival authorities in the Libya. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity related to the uprising.

Libya is set to hold the first round of presidential elections on December 24, after years of UN-led attempts to usher in a more democratic future and end the country’s civil war. Adding to concerns surrounding the election, the top UN envoy for Libya tendered his resignation last week, although he said on Wednesday he was prepared to stay during the vote if necessary.

After the overthrow and murder of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, oil-rich Libya has spent most of the past decade divided between rival governments – one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the east of the country. Each side of the Civil War also benefited from the support of mercenaries and foreign forces from Turkey, Russia, Syria and other regional powers.

The son of the former Libyan dictator submitted his candidacy in the southern city of Sabha on November 14. It was the first time in years that the 49-year-old, who holds a doctorate from the London School of Economics, has appeared in public. .

He was captured by fighters in the town of Zintan at the end of 2011, after the uprising ended his father’s reign after 40 years. Seif al-Islam was released in June 2017.

The announcement of his possible candidacy has sparked controversy across the divided country, where a number of other high-profile candidates have also emerged in recent weeks. Among them are the powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter and the interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

The long-awaited vote still faces challenges, including unresolved issues regarding laws governing elections and occasional internal strife between armed groups. Other obstacles include the deep divide that remains between the east and west of the country and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and soldiers.

Meanwhile, UN envoy Jan Kubis tendered his resignation last week, although it was not made public until Tuesday.

The Geneva-based diplomat is both special envoy for Libya and head of the UN political mission in the country. He told the Security Council on Wednesday that he was leaving to facilitate a change he deems essential: moving the post of head of mission to Tripoli to be on the ground at a crucial time for Libya.

The idea split the board during discussions in September. Western countries have adopted it; Russia rejected it.

Kubis added that he was ready to continue as special envoy during the elections, although he said the UN accepted his resignation with an effective date of December 10.

Asked about the gap, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the organization “will continue to work with him while we look for a successor.”

The post was open for almost a year before being filled by Kubis, a former Slovakian foreign minister and UN official in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Security Council stressed the importance of the upcoming elections on Wednesday, calling for an “inclusive and consultative electoral process”, warning against violence and disinformation and calling on Libyans to accept the results of the vote.

Libyan Ambassador Taher El Sonni said his country valued “all international initiatives with genuine intentions” but said council members should “listen to us too” and let the Libyans come out of the crisis by themselves – same.

“You have a moral responsibility towards the developments in my country over the past 10 years,” he told the group. “Don’t put us down.”

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Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed from New York.


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