Haftar's militia withdraws ahead of Gaddafi’s appeal
Court set to review Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s appeal against exclusion from polls
Militiamen aligned with Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar on Tuesday withdrew from the vicinity of the Sabha court in southern Libya, according to a local security official.
The move came two days after the militiamen blocked a court session to review an appeal submitted by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of former strongman Muammar Gaddafi, against a decision to exclude him from the country’s presidential election.
"Haftar’s militia withdrew from the court vicinity,” the official, who works in the National Security Directorate in Sabha, told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.
He said the armed men left the area after supporters of Sail al-Islam demonstrated near the court on Monday.
Libya’s presidential and parliamentary elections are set to take place on Dec. 24 under a UN-sponsored agreement reached by Libyan political rivals during meetings in Tunisia on Nov. 15 last year.
The application deadline for those wishing to run for the presidency ended on Nov. 22, while nominations for parliamentary polls remain open until Dec. 7.
The reason behind the departure of Haftar’s militia from the area is not yet clear.
On Monday, the UN mission in Libya threatened to impose sanctions by the UN Security Council against "those obstructing the justice and electoral system."
Observers believe that Saif al-Islam's return to the political scene poses a threat to Haftar's candidacy who relies on the support of Gaddafi loyalists.
Last week, the Libyan Electoral Commission announced a primary list of 73 candidates for the presidential election and another list of 25 people excluded from running for presidency, including Saif al-Islam.
Libyans hope that the upcoming elections will contribute to ending an armed conflict that has plagued the oil-rich country for years.
*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar