Warlord Khalifa Haftar, who leads militias in eastern Libya under the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), has taken a leave for three months from his self-proclaimed position of the General Commander to able to run for Libyan presidential Council on December 24.
The decision by Haftar says that his Chief of General Staff, Abdelrazik Al-Nathori, is going to fill in for him as General Commander from September 23 to December 24 – the day of Libyan general elections.
Of course, the move by the warlord in not uncalculated as he is following the instructions laid out in the presidential elections law issued unilaterally and without consensus by the House of Representatives (HoR). The law says that political and military positions’ occupants can run for elections if they left their jobs three months prior to December 24. If they failed to be elected, they can resume their jobs and get their three months’ salaries.
According to reports by the UN Panel of Experts and other press as well as investigative reports, Haftar is implicated in war crimes and crimes against humanity. His war on Tripoli from April 2019 to June 2020 caused hundreds of deaths in addition to destruction of personal and public properties and the displacement of thousands of families.
A dual citizen of the United Sates and Libya, Haftar must also be facing a legal challenge to his Libya presidential bid, as the Libyan laws prevent a dual citizen from occupying sovereign positions, yet he seems to look away from the issue, backed by the House of representatives’ Speaker Aqila Saleh, who is every now and then issuing legislations in favor of Haftar’s presidential adventure.
In the US, Haftar is facing a court proceeding regarding accusations of war crimes by Libyan families. The court summoned Haftar to attend with his defense lawyers, who recently reported that the warlord wouldn’t attend the court session this week nor would he attend any upcoming court session in the US.
Earlier in the summer, the US district court in Virginia ruled that Haftar cannot claim a head of state’s immunity in the case against him by war crimes victims’ families. Currently, according to the Libyan-American Alliance, the court could find Haftar in default judgment, meaning that the victims’ families would win the case against the warlord and could be also compensated using Haftar’s Virginia real estate money.
Meanwhile, with the Government of National Unity stripped off from House of Representatives’ confidence and the elections law rendered as flawed, December 24 elections seem to be a very decisive deadline that could define the shape of the future of the Libyan state.