Some 721 candidates have registered as candidates for Libya's Dec. 24 parliamentary elections, according to a statement by the country's elections authority.
The list came in a daily report issued by the commission on its Facebook page regarding the registration process, which will continue through Nov. 22.
Early on Tuesday, putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar announced his bid to seek presidency. To date, putschist Haftar has been an impediment to the country's democratic processes.
Haftar, commander of the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), 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 recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) mainly backed by Turkey. The campaign ultimately failed last year, leading to United Nations-mediated talks and the formation of a transitional government charged with leading Libya until the parliamentary and presidential elections.
Haftar delegated his military duties in September to his chief of staff, Abdel-Razek al-Nadhouri, for three months to meet candidacy terms.
Haftar's decision to contest the elections will anger many in Tripoli and western regions who argue that voting in his area will not be fair. He is also accused of war crimes during the assault, something he denies. Haftar, backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is despised by many in western Libya and has been accused of seeking to establish a military dictatorship.
The election is seen as a milestone in the political process to stitch Libya back together after a decade of chaos. Libya has been wracked by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. As a result, oil-rich Libya spent most of the last decade split between rival governments – one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the eastern part of the country. However, with wrangling over the legal basis for the elections, major factions may reject the vote.
Libya's interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah also said Monday that he'd run for the presidency if that's what the people want, a day after Seif al-Islam Gadhafi announced his candidacy for the country's top office.
Libya's presidential and parliamentary elections are set to take place on Dec. 24 under an U.N.-sponsored agreement reached by Libyan political rivals at meetings in Tunisia last November.
The oil-rich country's electoral commission on Nov. 8 opened registration for candidates in the polls despite ongoing tensions between the parliament, the High Council of State, and the unity government regarding electoral powers and laws.
Libyans hope the looming elections will help end an armed conflict that has plagued the oil-rich country for years.
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