BENGHAZI, Libya: Libya's High National Elections Committee has disqualified Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi, from running for president due to his prior convictions by Libyan courts.
Gadhafi, however, can appeal the decision.
A Tripoli court had sentenced Seif al-Islam to death in 2015 for using violence against protesters in a 2011 uprising against his father, and he is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity connected to the uprising.
Seif al-Islam submitted his candidacy papers in the southern town of Sabha on November 14. It was the first time in years that the 49-year-old, who earned a PhD at the London School of Economics, appeared in public.
The announcement of his possible candidacy stirred controversy across the divided country.
Other high-profile candidates include powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter, and the country's interim prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
Libya's first round of presidential elections will be held on December 24, after years of U.N.-led attempts to create a more democratic future and end the country's civil war. Adding to the concerns surrounding the election, the U.N.'s top envoy for Libya submitted his resignation last week, though he said that he is prepared to stay until after the presidential election.
The long-awaited vote also faces challenges, including unresolved issues over laws governing the elections, occasional infighting among armed groups, the deep rift that remains between the country's east and west, and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and troops.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council has emphasized the importance of the upcoming election, urging an "inclusive and consultative electoral process," warning against violence and disinformation, and calling upon Libyans to accept the results of the vote.
Libyan UN Ambassador Taher El Sonni said his country appreciates "all international initiatives with genuine intentions," but he noted that the council's members need "to heed us, too" and let Libyans lead their own way out of its continuing crisis.