Libya ex-interior minister registers presidential bid

AFP , Thursday 18 Nov 2021

Libya's former interior minister Fathi Bashagha on Thursday registered to run in a presidential election set for December 24.

Fathi Bashagha
File Photo: Libya's UN-supported government s interior minister Fathi Bashagha is interviewed in Tripoli Libya, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. AP

"I, Fathi Bashagha, put myself forward as a candidate in the presidential election," he said after lodging his application at an electoral commission office in Tripoli.

Bashagha's move follows similar announcements by two controversial figures from the east of the war-torn country, military chief Khalifa Haftar and parliament speaker Aguila Saleh -- as well as by Seif al-Islam Gaddafi -- the son of former dictator Moamer Gaddafi.

Bashagha, a 59-year-old former fighter pilot who had publicly announced he would run months before registrations opened, has put "security and economic reform" at the heart of his pitch.

He gained national prominence as interior minister from 2018 to 2021, leading a campaign to reduce the influence of Libya's powerful militias and integrate them into the state.

He survived an assassination attempt near Tripoli days before leaving the post.

In an interview with AFP in October, he stressed that "security goes hand in hand with economic reform".

He was beaten in a February vote to head up an interim government, with Abdulhamid Dbeibah taking the job.

The North African country's first ever direct presidential poll aims to cap a United Nations-led peace process following a landmark ceasefire last year, drawing a line under years of violence since Gaddafi senior's overthrow and murder in a 2011 revolt.

But 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.

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