The UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, has said that Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the late dictator, could stand as a candidate in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in the North African state. Salame told France 24 on Friday that supporters and loyalists of the former regime can participate in the political process, including Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi.
"Elections must be open to all," the envoy insisted. "I do not want the political agreement to be the private property of one side or the other. It could include [Muammar Gaddafi's son] and supporters of the former regime whom I openly welcome in my office."
Asked if that includes Islamists, Salame explained that they are a major part of the current struggle and so will be part of the political process. "However," he pointed out, "groups which advocate violence are not interested in the democratic process."
Salame, who took office in July, presented a roadmap for Libya last week that includes several steps before a general election, which he expects to be held next summer. "We must create the conditions for these elections, and we should know how to elect a president and what authority we will give him," he explained.
The UN official warned against any unannounced initiatives by foreign states, and said that any moves should be made under the UN umbrella.
Libyan circles received Salame's remarks with some shock. According to Abu Qasim Qazit MP, the envoy must assess the situation and correct what he had said before he loses his credibility. "We welcome the ex-regime supporters and loyalists but Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi is wanted for international crimes, and by the Libyan courts as well," he told Asharq Al-Awsat.