Muslim Brotherhood opponent announces bid for Libyan elections

Candidate Aref Nayed said the elections should go ahead and that Libyans “are fed up with the slow process of the UN-backed peace plan.”
Sunday 19/08/2018
Former Libyan Ambassador Aref Nayed. (AFP)
Hopes for renewal. Former Libyan Ambassador Aref Nayed. (AFP)

TUNIS - Former Libyan Ambassador Aref Nayed, an avowed opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood, announced he will run in Libya’s presidential elections in December on a platform of anti-corruption and economic diversification.

“I’m a candidate for the presidential elections with this programme, which is a plan for national renewal and transformation by 2023,” Nayed said at a news conference in Tunis.

Nayed, 56, is an Islamic scholar who has lectured on Islamic theology, logic and spirituality. Under the regime of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, he supervised graduate studies at the International Islamic College in Tripoli.

Nayed is a fierce opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, which he accused of “being associated with terrorism and assassinations” and “being sympathetic to the fascist Italian ideology.”

In 2011, Nayed became the first ambassador appointed in the post-Qaddafi era, serving as Libya’s envoy to the United Arab Emirates.

He is the second person believed to be running for Libya’s election, scheduled for December 10. Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam is also to run, his supporters announced in March.

Saif al-Islam, however, has not been seen in public for years and there are questions about the legitimacy of the campaign. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity committed during his father’s attempt to quash the 2011 rebellion.

Nayed urged “reconciliation between all Libyans to pull together Libya out of its destructive 7-year-old conflict.” He said Libyans must stop focusing on the “painful and ugly parts of Libya’s past” and the “leaders of the times that passed.”

“With this way of thinking and feeling we cannot build a state and restore peace and security,” he said.

Instead, he said, Libyans should “emphasise the bright aspects of every period in the long history of Libya and the good achievements of previous leaders and personalities. We shall put all these positive aspects together and move forward.

“We must be happy with all the diversity in Libya, its history, cultures and people and its good values of love, hospitality, openness and togetherness.”

The four key leaders in Libya — Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed government in Tripoli; Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s eastern military leader; Aguila Saleh Issa, president of the House of Representatives; and Khalid al-Mishri, head of the Council of State — endorsed — but did not sign — a statement calling for “credible, peaceful parliamentary and presidential elections on December 10,” which critics dismissed as unrealistic and potentially counterproductive.

The parties also agreed to establish a constitutional basis for elections and adopt the necessary electoral laws by September 16.

Nayed, who said he supports the accord, said the elections should go ahead and that Libyans “are fed up with the slow process of the UN-backed peace plan.”

He said he would campaign across Libya to rally support.

“I will be crisscrossing the country to rally young people, women and leading tribe figures and professionals for the Ihya Libya (Libya Renewal) project. I will start from the south, which is neglected by the government in Tripoli and left reeling from lawlessness and underdevelopment,” he said.

Nayed promised Libyans “peace, security and the rule of law that are the prerequisites for sustainable development.”

“Libya will only go forward by preventing further conflict through reconciliation, professionalising security institutions, ensuring equitable access to justice and maintaining law and order,” he said.

“Libya will build a democratic, transparent and accountable government at both the national and municipal levels that will be managed by professional and committed public servants.”

Nayed warned that Libyans’ patience was wearing thin and that locals could forge a solution without UN support or foreign interference.

UN Special Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame, in a July assessment on Libya for the UN Security Council, warned of dire conditions and that planned elections could not take place in the current circumstances.

Libya, he said, was on the verge of economic collapse, terrorists were “lurking,” the number of foreign mercenaries growing, human trafficking and human rights continuing and the plight of refugees and asylum seekers was dire.