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Libya polls: Militiamen storm court to stop Gaddafi’s son’s appeal

Recall that, Libya’s electoral commission earlier announced that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the country’s revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi was ineligible to contest the Presidential seat in the December poll on the basis of a court conviction. The authorities cited the 2015 judgement in absentia which sentenced him to death for fighting in the 2011 uprising which toppled his father’s government.

Following the rejection, the commission went on to grant a 48-hour period to Gaddafi and other rejected candidates to appeal the decision. However, attempts by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to do so was met with frustrations. He revealed that, “military force surrounded the Sabha Court for a second day in a row, and prevented judges and staff from accessing the building.”

The state also reported earlier that, some militiamen stormed the court, forcing it to shut down before Gaddafi’s lawyer could file his appeal. The government said lawyers were equally threatened not to hold any sitting to look into his appeal.

In a statement, the government said it was “following with great concern the tensions around the court in Sebha, which threaten the legitimacy of the judicial institution,” adding that, “threatening the lives of judges or trying to influence their work risks plunging Sebha back into civil war.”

The development was equally confirmed by Gaddafi’s lawyer, Khaled Zaidi who told reporters that, “the employees of the court and judges were forced out at gunpoint,” an occurrence he described as “unacceptable and uncivilized.” Khaled further warned that, the move will have “implications on the election process”.

Since the announcement of the candidacy of Gaddafi’s son ahead of the December polls, the Libyan electoral scene has totally changed, with groups openly calling for his removal from the race. The likes of a group of elders who played a role in the death of his father and military prosecutors were among the people demanding his withdrawal from the poll.  

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