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What is behind Libya's crowded presidential race?

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Ninety-eight individuals, including two women, have submitted their applications to contest Libya's 24 December presidential elections. The list includes a militia-linked suspect, Libya's top comedian, former and current parliament speakers and prime ministers, former Gaddafi era top official, a couple of businessmen and, of course, Gaddafi's son, Saif Al-Islam.

Many hopefuls will not make it beyond this stage as the process of vetting candidates moves to the second stage in which the judiciary, criminal investigation department, secret services and the national passport authorities review the details submitted by each candidate and decide their authenticity in accordance with the country's laws. For example, Libyan citizenship law bans any dual citizens from holding public office, while law number 1/2021, governing the presidential polls, disqualifies any individual who has been convicted in any crime with a final verdict. Furthermore, the law bars any Libyan citizen married to a non-Libyan from running for the top job.

The final list of contenders is likely to be shorter and include top candidates like General Khalifa Haftar, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, Fethi Bashaga, former Minister of Interior and Parliament Speaker, Aguila Saleh, and a couple of others.

Yet, 98 candidates for a country of less than seven million people and less than four million eligible voters is "astonishingly high" says Zubair Abdelgather, a retired law professor. "However, it is understandable" in the Libyan context, the professor said. One should remember this is the first time the presidency is openly contested in Libya since its independence in 1951.

READ: UN's........

© Middle East Monitor

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