9 potential candidates in Libya’s presidential elections

Libya’s presidential and parliamentary elections are set to take place on Dec. 24

Muhammad Artima  | 10.11.2021 - Update : 11.11.2021
9 potential candidates in Libya’s presidential elections


As the date for Libya’s presidential elections closes in, nine prominent figures are expected to run for the country’s top seat.

While some of these figures have openly stated their candidacy, others have not, but their interest has been revealed to Anadolu Agency by sources close to them.

Libya’s presidential and parliamentary elections are set to take place on Dec. 24 under an UN-sponsored agreement reached by Libyan political rivals during meetings in Tunisia on Nov. 15, 2020.

The oil-rich country’s electoral commission on Nov. 8 opened registration for candidates in next month’s polls despite ongoing tensions between the parliament, the High Council of State, and the unity government regarding electoral powers and laws.

Applications for running in the presidential polls will be accepted until Nov. 22 and Dec. 7 for parliamentary polls.

With just over a month to the vote, Anadolu Agency looks at nine potential candidates for the North African country’s top seat:

1- Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh

A government source close to the current Prime Minister of the unity government, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday that the premier intends to run in the presidential elections.

Dbeibeh was born in 1958 in Libya’s western city of Misrata. He enjoys a larger popular base as well as the support of tribes in the country's west.

Tasked with guiding the conflict-ridden country towards elections, Dbeibeh has been able to improve the living conditions of citizens since taking office on March 16 following a breakthrough in February in which rival Libyan sides agreed to a new executive authority which also saw Mohammad Menfi chosen as the head of a three-member Presidential Council.

Dbeibeh achieved relative security stability, raised teachers’ wages, and supported the marriage of hundreds of young people.

2- Warlord Khalifa Haftar

Retired Major General Khalifa Haftar has not officially announced his desire to run for the presidential elections.

The self-proclaimed "Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army” has contributed greatly to the decade-long turmoil in Libya after leading a military offensive, with the support of foreign powers, to unsuccessfully topple the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west.

Mass graves in Libya’s southwestern city of Tarhuna, a former stronghold for Haftar, continue to be discovered since the warlord’s defeat in June 2020 with hundreds of bodies exhumed.

Having helped former strongman Muammar Gaddafi come to power in 1969, Haftar fell out with his boss in the late 1980s and sought asylum in the US.

Haftar reappeared in the Libyan political scene during the 2011 uprising that led to Gaddafi’s ouster and subsequent death.

He joined the Libyan opposition and made the eastern city of Benghazi his base.

Despite the February agreement that paved the way for a unity government, Haftar still acts independently of the legitimate government and leads an armed militia that controls vast areas in the east.

3- Fathi Bashagha

Fathi Bashagha, another potential presidential candidate, was a former interior minister during the GNA reign. He also unsuccessfully competed against Dbeibeh for the prime minister position earlier this year.

Bashagha is a leading and influential military and political figure in western Libyan.

Born in Misrata in 1962, Bashagha graduated from the Air College with the rank of lieutenant.

Though he resigned in 1993, he joined the Military Council in Misrata following the 2011 uprising.

4- Muhammad Khaled Abdullah Al-Ghweil

The head of the Peace and Prosperity Party, Mohamed Khaled Abdel Al-Ghweil, told Anadolu Agency of his intention to run for the presidential elections.

He hails from Misrata although he was born in Tripoli in 1965.

He also competed with Dbeibeh for the prime minister post.

Al-Ghweil previously held high government positions, including serving as an undersecretary for the Ministry of Planning.

5- Ali Zaidan

Sources close to the former Libyan Prime Minister, Ali Zaidan (2012-2014), revealed to Anadolu Agency his plans to vie for the country’s presidency.

Zaidan was born in 1950 in the city of Al-Jufra southeast of Tripoli. He heads the Nidaa Al-Qardabiya party.

In 1980, he joined the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, a movement based outside Libya that opposed the Gaddafi regime.

6- Othman Abdul Jalil

This week, the former Minister of Education, Othman Abdel Jalil, announced via a video speech on his Facebook page his intention to run for the presidential elections.

He was born in 1967 and hails from the city of Zintan in the Western Mountains.

Abdel Jalil holds a Ph.D. in genetics and genetic engineering and is a faculty member in Libyan universities.

7- Aref Al-Nayed

Aref Al-Nayed, who heads the Revival of Libya bloc, also stated on his Facebook page his intention to run for the presidential elections.

Al-Nayed was born in Benghazi in 1962. He was a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (2011-2016) and is seen as being close to the Gulf country’s leadership. He also served as a national security adviser to former Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani.

8- Fathi bin Shatwan

Fathi Benchtwan, head of the Steering Committee of the National Project Movement, announced his candidacy for the presidential elections.

He holds a BA in Engineering and served as minister of industry and minister of energy before the 2011 revolution.

9- Ismail Al-Shtiwi

Sources close to businessman Ismail Al-Shtiwi told Anadolu Agency that he intends to register his candidacy for the presidential elections in the coming days.

Al-Shtiwi was born in 1966 and hails from the city of Asaba in the Western Mountains.

He currently resides in the UAE and has a popular base among the Libyan sports audience having previously chaired the administrative committee of the Al-Ahly Sports Club in 2006 and 2007.

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 in Ankara

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