Libya elders urge boycott over Gaddafi presidential bid

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Elders from several cities called for a boycott of presidential elections and protesters shut voting stations in western Libya on Monday after former president Muammar Gaddafi’s son registered to run.

Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, whose whereabouts have been secret for years, on Sunday became the first heavyweight candidate to sign up for the December 24 poll.

But an influential council of elders from Misrata, a city which played a key role in the 2011 uprising that toppled his father, called for an election boycott.

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The council rejects “the candidacy of those who used excessive force against the Libyan people’s uprising and who are the target of arrest warrants from Libyan courts and the International Criminal Court,” it said in a statement.

It urged “free patriots” to protest against the election taking place before a constitutional basis was agreed.

A member of the electoral commission, the HNEC, told AFP that “residents protesting at the candidacy of Seif al-Islam Gaddafi in presidential elections closed down several polling stations” in the west.

The official, who asked not to be named, said there had been no violence and voting stations had not been damaged.

Libya first ever direct presidential poll comes as the United Nations seeks to end a decade of violence since a revolt that toppled his father in 2011.

Seif al-Islam is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the NATO-backed uprising.

But the HNEC said he had “completed all the required legal conditions” to run.

On Sunday, prominent figures in the western city of Zawiya “categorically rejected” presidential runs by both Gaddafi and eastern military general Khalifa Haftar, who is also widely expected to announce a bid.

A key part of a United Nations-led political process building on a ceasefire in October last year, the elections are opposed by some who argue there has been no agreement on their legal basis and the powers the winner would take.

Khaled al-Meshri, head of an interim High Council of State, has called for them to be delayed, saying they are “flawed” and “illegal.”

The HNEC says around 2.83 million voters have signed up to take part in the presidential and legislative polls due to start on December 24.

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