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Libya’s notorious warlord Haftar to run for president

Warlord Khalifa Haftar has announced that he will run in Libya’s presidential elections due next month.

“Elections are the only way out of the severe crisis that our country has plunged into,” said Haftar in a televised speech on Tuesday.

Haftar submitted his candidacy papers on Tuesday in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Haftar’s announcement comes after Seif al Islam Gaddafi, the son and one-time heir apparent of the late ruler, submitted candidacy papers on Sunday in the southern town of Sabha.

Seif al Islam, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity, has spent years largely in hiding.

If accepted, both Haftar and Seif al Islam would be among front-runners in the December 24 vote.

Years of turmoil

Haftar, who leads a militia group called the Libyan National Army, waged war on factions in the west after the country split in 2014, including a 14-month offensive to capture Tripoli which was repelled by the internationally recognised government.

Haftar’s decision to run will anger many in Tripoli and western regions who say no vote in areas he holds can be fair and who accuse him of war crimes during the assault, something he denies.

The election is meant as a milestone in the political process to knit Libya back together after a decade of chaos that spiralled out of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

However, with no clear agreement on the legal basis for the election, major factions may reject the vote.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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