Gunmen attack Libyan court, blocking Kadhafi son's appeal to run for president

·2 min read

Libya's unity government has condemned an attack on a court which prevented Saif al-Islam Kadhafi from lodging an appeal against disqualification from December's presidential election.

The polls slated for 24 December come as Libya seeks to turn the page on a decade of violence since a Nato-backed uprising that toppled and killed Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

On Wednesday, Libya's electoral commission announced it had rejected the candidacy of the late dictator's son –Seif al-Islam Kadhafi – who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.

Seif al-Islam was among 25 of the 98 hopefuls whose bids to contest the election were turned down for non-compliance with the provisions of electoral law.

The unsuccessful applicants were given 48 hours to appeal in court.

According to a government statement released Thursday, a "group of outlaws" launched an "odious" attack on the court in the southern city of Sebha, forcing it to shut, just hours before Seif al-Islam had been due to appeal.

It has ordered the interior and justice ministries to investigate the attack.

UN mission to Libya "alarmed"

Seif al-Islam's lawyer claims the attackers forced all staff out of the court building "at gunpoint" hours before the appeal hearing.

"This act is an obstacle to the electoral process," lawyer Khaled al-Zaydi said in a video broadcast on Libyan media.

Meanwhile, the United Nations mission in Libya, UNSMIL – which has been overseeing efforts to reach a political settlement in the country since a landmark ceasefire last year – said it was "alarmed" by the reported attack.

"UNSMIL strongly condemns any form of electoral-related violence & reiterates that the electoral process must be protected," it said on Twitter.

Election body stands over decision to reject Seif al-Islam

The electoral commission had justified its decision based on articles of the electoral law which stipulate that candidates "must not have been sentenced for a dishonourable crime" and must present a clean criminal record.

The final list of candidates is due to be published by early December, once verifications and appeals have run their course.

Other hopefuls still in the running include eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar, interim premier Abdulhamid Dbeibah and former interior minister Fathi Bashagha.

Both presidential and legislative polls had been slated for 24 December, but in early October parliament split the dates of the votes, postponing the legislative elections until January.

The path to the ballot box has been marred by disputes over the constitutional basis for the polls and the powers to be given to whoever wins.

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