Eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar will run in Libya’s presidential elections
due next month, he announced in a televised speech.
“Elections are the only way out of the severe crisis that our country has plunged
into,” said Haftar, who was expected to formally register later on Tuesday at the
election centre in Benghazi.
Haftar, commander of a force called the Libyan National Army (LNA), waged war on
factions in the west after the country split in 2014, including a 14-month offensive to
capture Tripoli which was repelled by the internationally recognised government.
Backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, Haftar, a former CIA asset, is a
controversial figure, despised by many in western Libya for last year’s devastating
Tripoli offensive. He has also been accused of seeking to establish a military
dictatorship in the country.
His decision to run will anger many in the capital city and western regions who claim
that no vote in areas he holds can be fair and who accuse him of war crimes during
the assault, something he denies
However, with no clear agreement on the legal basis for the election, major factions
may reject the vote. On Monday, interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah,
who may also be a candidate for president, called for new election law.
In September, Haftar paved the way for his presidential bid by saying he would step
down from his military role for three months – as required by an election law that
has been rejected by armed factions based in Tripoli.