Gaddafi’s Son Calls for Libyan Elections ‘As Soon As Possible,’ But What is Russia’s Role?
TRIPOLI, Libya – The son of former Libyan leader and martyr Muammar Gaddafi overthrown in 2011, Saif Islam Gaddafi has pleaded for a presidential vote in the state as soon as possible, criticizing delays in the UN proposal to hold the election at a later time.
“The only solution is elections: if not, you maintain the current political situation that is not in the interest of the Libyan people,” Saif Islam’s aide said in the statement.
Although a recent domestic political summit in Libya, based in Italy last autumn, aims to hold elections in the first half of 2019, UN ambassador to Libya Ghassan Salame later commented that the presidential election may not happen so soon. It is necessary to hold first the parliamentary elections and then a referendum on the Constitution, which must precede the long awaited presidential vote.
At the end of last year, Saif Islam Gaddafi sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin via Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in which he laid out plans for resolving the national reconciliation and impasse of Libya. A member of the Saif Islam Gaddafi political team, Muhammad Qailushia said at the time that Saif had not decided whether to contest in the election.
Bogdanov, meanwhile, announced Russia’s willingness to mediate dialogue between political forces wishing to participate in the Libyan elections. The deputy minister said he believed that no one should be deprived of the right to run for the Libyan presidency and that Saif should be part of the national political process.
Libya has been in a state of chaos since the overthrow and martyrdom of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed political revolt in 2011. A major oil producer, the country was divided into two parts controlled by different governments: the eastern part is governed by the local parliament elected, backed by the Libyan National Army and led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The western part is controlled by the UN and a government-backed national agreement led by Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj.
Despite the party’s initial plan to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in the country in an attempt to unify it, the vote never happened, further increasing chaos in the country.
Insecurity also allowed jihadists fleeing Syria and other conflicts to settle in Libya. There are reports of terrorists of Daesh (ISIS) invading villages, making girls their sex slaves and selling servants in a local market.