Libya gunmen attack court stopping Kadhafi son’s appeal
Libya’s unity government has condemned an attack on a court ahead of an appeal by the son of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi after he was barred from standing in a presidential election.
The December 24 polls come as Libya seeks to turn the page on a decade of violence since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Kadhafi in 2011.
Libya’s electoral commission on Wednesday announced the rejection of the candidacy of Seif al-Islam Kadhafi, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.
Seif al-Islam was among 25 of the 98 hopefuls whose bids were turned down for non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral law.
The unsuccessful applicants were given 48 hours to appeal in court.
On Thursday morning, a “group of outlaws” launched an “odious” attack on the court in the southern city of Sebha, forcing it to shut, just hours before Seif al-Islam had been due to appeal, the government said in a statement.
It has ordered the interior and justice ministries to investigate the attack.
The attackers forced all staff out of the court building “at gunpoint” hours before the appeal hearing, said Seif al-Islam’s lawyer, Khaled al-Zaydi.
“This act is an obstacle to the electoral process,” he said in a video broadcast on Libyan media.
The United Nations Libya mission UNSMIL, which has been overseeing efforts to reach a political settlement in the country since a landmark ceasefire last year, said it was “alarmed” by the reported attack.
“UNSMIL strongly condemns any form of electoral-related violence & reiterates that the electoral process must be protected,” it said on Twitter.
The electoral commission had justified its decision based on articles of the electoral law which stipulate that candidates “must not have been sentenced for a dishonourable crime” and must present a clean criminal record.
The final list of candidates is due to be published by early December, once verifications and appeals are exhausted.
Other hopefuls still in the running include eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar, interim premier Abdulhamid Dbeibah and former interior minister Fathi Bashagha.
Both presidential and legislative polls had been slated for December 24, but in early October parliament split the dates of the votes, postponing the legislative elections until January.
The path to the ballot box has been lined with disputes over the constitutional basis for the polls and the powers to be given to whoever wins.