Will the Gaddafi family take over Libya once again?

It has been more than 10 years since the killing of former strong man of Libya , Mu’ammar Al-Qadhdhafi. Yet, it seems there is a fair chance that once again, the Gaddafi family may go back to power. This time under the leadership of the son of the former dictator.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Since his death, Libya is split between a government in the east and a U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli. Each side has external support of mercenaries and foreign forces from different regional powers especially Turkey, Egypt, UAE, Russia, and Syria and Qatar.

Last week, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (49-year-old) appeared in a video in a traditional brown turban and robes. He was signing his candidacy papers for the presidential election scheduled to take place on December 24.

Saif went largely missing from the public eye since his capture in 2011by fighters in the mountainous region of Zintan. He seldom appeared publicly, notably in a video filmed in Tripoli for his 2015 trial, and in an interview with the New York Times in July 2021.

Khalifa Haftar

Another candidate who is expected to run is the self-proclaimed military commander Khalifa Haftar (77-year-old). Haftar, a dual U.S. and Libyan citizen, is backed by Russia, Egypt and the UAE, and is a controversial figure and accused of seeking to establish a new military dictatorship.

Khalifa announced in a video that he is seeking to “lead our people in a fateful stage.” He urged Libyans to vote “with the highest levels of awareness and responsibility” so the nation can begin rebuilding and reconciling after a decade of turmoil and civil war.

The commander heads a militia named Libyan National Army (LNA), and is accused of war crimes. LNA forces failed last year to capture Tripoli in a year-long campaign. The failure of either side to win the civil war lead to U.N.-mediated talks and the formation of a transitional government charged with leading Libya until the parliamentary and presidential elections.

Self-proclaimed military commander Khalifa Haftar

Other candidates

Other candidates expected to announce presidential bids include Parliament Speaker Agila Saleh. Also expected to run are the former Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga, and interim prime minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah.

Several western cities including Zawiya and Misrata saw residents taking to the streets to protest against Gaddafi and Haftar’s candidacies. Some activists believe that their participation in the election could take the country back to square one.