On Wednesday, the speaker of Libya’s eastern-based House of Representatives announced his intention to run for president in a December 24 election as part of a United Nations-backed effort to end a decade of conflict.
Aguila Saleh’s candidacy follows that of several other prominent Libyans, including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Khalifa Haftar, both of whom have denied allegations of war crimes.
“The only source of legitimacy for any authority is public voting,” Saleh said in televised remarks.
Disputes over election rules, including who should be eligible, the schedule, and the legal basis of the vote, persist less than six weeks before the vote, raising concerns about whether it will be held.
The only law issued for the election is one issued by Saleh in September, which critics say was done without a full vote or quorum.
According to critics, key provisions appear to be designed to allow Saleh and his eastern ally Haftar to run without fear of losing their positions if they fail to win.
Defenders of the law claim it was properly passed through parliament and accuse opponents of attempting to postpone or derail Libya’s first election since 2014.
That vote, which established the House of Representatives to oversee the transition to an unwritten constitution, was quickly overshadowed by Libya’s division into eastern and western factions.
Both the United States and the European Union sanctioned Saleh after he refused to recognize the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord.
The sanctions were lifted early this year as the peace process progressed, including the formation of a new unity government and the start of the election process.