File Photo: Libyan Prime Minister-designate Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah speaks during a news conference in Tripoli, Libya, Feb. 25, 2021. AP
Libya's first ever direct presidential poll, due on December 24, comes as the UN seeks to end a decade of violence in the oil-rich nation since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Gaddafi in 2011.
Dbeibah signed documents at the HNEC electoral commission in the capital Tripoli, in footage broadcast live by state television, the day before the deadline for registration.
A wealthy businessman from the western port city of Misrata, the 62-year-old political newcomer was designated as interim prime minister in February in a UN-led process, to steer the country to legislative and presidential elections.
Doubt had persisted about whether he would present his candidacy but on Thursday he submitted an assets declaration -- one of the prerequisites for prospective presidential candidates.
Libya's parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, former commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar and Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libya's late leader, have also signed up to run for the presidency.
Gaddafi is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, while many in western Libya despise Haftar after his year-long assault on Tripoli, accusing the military commander of seeking to establish a military dictatorship.
Pro-Haftar forces remain in control of much of eastern and southern Libya, and some analysts have voiced scepticism over the chances of a free and fair election.
Nearly three million Libyans -- out of a total population of some seven million people -- have so far registered to vote.
Both presidential and legislative polls had been slated for December 24, but in early October parliament split the dates of the vote by postponing legislative elections until January.
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.
In September, Saleh ratified a contentious electoral law criticised for bypassing due process and favouring a bid by Haftar.
Saleh on Saturday rejected controversy around the move and said the rules were not "tailor-made" to suit anyone.
Hundreds of Libyans protested in Tripoli on Friday against "war criminals" running in next month's presidential election.
Demonstrators stamped on posters of Haftar and Seif al-Islam, voicing anger over the controversial electoral law.