Former Libyan Ruler Gaddafi’s son runs for president

The son of late Libyan Ruler Muammar Gaddafi appeared for 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 had lost.

Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi had come 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.

Although 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.

Apart from that ruling, he never left the mountainous Zintan region, beyond the writ of the Tripoli authorities, where his captors allowed him to go free afterwards.

Over a decade later, Saif al-Islam is now something of a cipher for Libyans. The Zintan fighters kept him for years out of public sight and his views on the crisis are not known.

The 49-year-old gave an interview to the New York Times earlier this year, but has not yet made any public appearance speaking directly to Libyans yet.

Following his 2015 conviction, he would likely face arrest or other dangers if he appeared publicly in the capital Tripoli. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Educated at the London School of Economics and a fluent English speaker, Saif al-Islam was once seen by many governments as the acceptable, Western-friendly face of Libya, and a possible heir apparent.

Although, when a rebellion broke out in 2011 against Muammar Gaddafi’s long rule, Saif al-Islam immediately chose family and clan loyalties over his many friendships in the West, telling Reuters television: “We fight here in Libya; we die here in Libya.”

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