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11/23/2021 Libya (International Christian Concern) – The son of ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, filed to run for the nation’s December presidential elections. The younger Gaddafi spent six years in captivity of a Libyan militia group and has re-entered the national stage to compete for leadership.

The former leader was ousted and killed in 2011. Christians faced, and continue to struggle with, persecution from the ongoing civil war between the east and the west. The future for Christians in Libya remains unclear and what religious freedom would entail under the son who assisted his father in crackdowns. Saif Gaddafi is also wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed during the 2011 uprising.

Other potential candidates for the presidential election include current Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeiba, eastern military commander Khalifa Hifter who is considered a warlord and facing trial in the U.S., speaker of the Parliament Aguila Saleh, and former interior minister Fathi Bashagha. Registration for the presidential election will close on November 22, after which authorities will decide on whether the aspiring candidates will be cleared to run.

Domestic turmoil continues to threaten the nation’s stability, something that is unlikely to be solved by a presidential election. A parliamentary election is also scheduled to occur alongside the presidential one on December 24. However, authorities are in dispute over election and balloting issues such as dates, timing, and electoral law. The presence of Russian and Turkish foreign fighters, armed militia groups, and economic turmoil contribute to the instability of the country.

The direction of the nation, at least in part, will be determined by the role of Gaddafi in the next month and a half. Should he receive candidacy, or even the presidential nomination, Christians may not receive a needed respite. The last decade of conflict has pitted Christians against both warring factions, leaving an already vulnerable minority in a state of hopelessness.

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