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Haftar's militia withdraws ahead of Gaddafi's appeal

Why is Libya’s presidential race so overcrowded?
People gather to protest against the candidacy application of Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the son of former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi and Khalifa Haftar for upcoming presidential election in Tripoli, Libya on 19 November 2021. [Hazem Turkia - Anadolu Agency]

Militiamen aligned with Libyan warlord, Khalifa Haftar, on Tuesday, withdrew from the vicinity of the Sabha court in southern Libya, according to a local security official, and reported by Anadolu News Agency.

The move came two days after the militiamen blocked a court session to review an appeal submitted by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of former strongman, Muammar Gaddafi, against a decision to exclude him from the country's presidential election.

"Haftar's militia withdrew from the court vicinity," the official, who works in the National Security Directorate in Sabha, told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.

He said the armed men left the area after supporters of Sail Al-Islam demonstrated near the court on Monday.

Libya's presidential and parliamentary elections are set to take place on 24 December under a UN-sponsored agreement reached by Libyan political rivals during meetings in Tunisia on 15 November last year.

READ: Haftar militia surrounds Libyan court ahead of Gaddafi's appeal 

The application deadline for those wishing to run for the presidency ended on 22 November, while nominations for parliamentary polls remain open until 7 December.

The reason behind the departure of Haftar's militia from the area is not yet clear.

On Monday, the UN mission in Libya threatened to impose sanctions by the UN Security Council against "those obstructing the justice and electoral system."

Observers believe that Saif Al-Islam's return to the political scene poses a threat to Haftar's candidacy, who relies on the support of Gaddafi loyalists.

Last week, the Libyan Electoral Commission announced a primary list of 73 candidates for the presidential election and another list of 25 people excluded from running for presidency, including Saif Al-Islam.

Libyans hope that the upcoming elections will contribute to ending an armed conflict that has plagued the oil-rich country for years.

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