In Saif hands: Gaddafi's son to run for Libya president

In Saif hands: Gaddafi's son to run for Libya president
Saif Islam al-Gaddafi confirmed rumours he will return to politics by announcing his bid for the Libyan presidency , promising wide-reaching reforms 'in the interests of the Libyan people'
3 min read
19 March, 2018
Many Libyans have set their hopes on Saif al-Islam to resolve the current crisis [Getty]
The son of deposed Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi has announced he will run for president later this year.

Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi made the annoucement through his lawyer in Tunis on Monday, according to al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Gaddafi Jr. will run as the candidate for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya, a political party formed in December 2016 pledging to unite Libyan activists to "liberate the country from control of terrorist organisations".

Saif is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) following Gadaffi's brutal crackdown in the wake of popular anti-government protests in 2011. An armed revolt led to the overthrow of the regime, with Saif and his father fleeing south.

Muammar Gaddafi was captured by anti-government fighters and brutally killed. Saif was held by a Libyan militia but reportedly freed six years later.

Sources, who requested anonymnity, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that since then Saif has been living in Zintan, in northwest Libya. 

He regularly meets supporters and party members in secret at one of his properties on the outskirts of the town.

Gaddafi also boasts an extensive network of contacts in influential countries, the source alleges.

The director of Saif al-Islam's political reform programme, Ayman Boras, claimed during a press conference in Tunis that despite Saif's bloody past, his planned reforms will appeal to many Libyans.

He said that the party is well aware of the difficulties Libya faces but is confident that the people will lend their support to Saif's campaign.

Boras told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Saif is "under the protection of Libyans", and will announce details about his election campaign shortly. 

He assured that Gaddafi junior is not a "military man" and unlike his father, rejects the use of violence in politics with a "modern" and "open-minded" vision for the future of Libya.

Human rights activist Khaled Guel told al-Araby al-Jadeed that despite being wanted by the ICC, the eastern government in Tobruk - which has connections to some elements of the old regime - has granted Saif amnesty.

"The humanitarian situation is deteriorating and the path forward is unclear. Therefore many Libyans now believe that the only way to save the country is through Saif al-Islam," said Guel.

He added that the only way Libya can get past the current impasse is to overcome political divisions.

The whereabouts of Saif al-Islam have been uncertain since he was released by militiamen who held him hostage for six years until July 2016.  

Saif al-Islam came to prominence in Libyan politics some 16 years ago.

He was viewed initially as a reformer and spoke of modernising the country and opening up the state-controlled economy.

To some extent, he also highlighted some of the rampant human rights violations perpetrated by his father's regime, and was soon tipped as the heir in waiting.

This changed when he took the side of his father following the outbreak of the 2011 revolution. He soon lost any popular support he once had when a brutal crackdown was launched on the people by the regime.