Libyan Warlord Haftar Announces Presidential Election Bid

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Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar during Independence Day celebrations in Benghazi, Libya, in December 2020.
Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar during Independence Day celebrations in Benghazi, Libya, in December 2020. Credit: ESAM OMRAN AL-FETORI/ REUTERS

Eastern commander Khalifa Haftar will run in Libya's presidential elections due next month, he announced in a televised speech on Tuesday.

"Elections are the only way out of the severe crisis that our country has plunged into," said Haftar, who was expected to formally register later on Tuesday at the election center in Benghazi.

Haftar, commander of a force 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 recognized 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 spiraled out of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gadhafi.

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

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