The eldest son of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strongman of eastern Libya, said today that he is open to running for the country’s presidency, but warned that elections will only be held if there is stability and a new government of national unity takes over.

Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising and in 2014 was torn between eastern and western powers clashing with each other. Although there have been no major clashes since the ceasefire, in 2020, the leaders of the opposing sides do not trust each other. Many Libyans suspect that their political leaders are not interested in finding a sustainable settlement or holding elections as they could lose the positions of power they have held for years.

Elsedik Haftar, who, unlike his 79-year-old father, has no military responsibilities, is cultivating his public image through social networking sites, as it is currently uncertain whether Khalifa Haftar will run for the presidency in the future.

In an interview in Paris, Elsedik, 43, defended the role played by his family and sought to appear as a representative of Libya’s new generation.

“I believe I have all the means to stabilize Libya and restore the cohesion and unity of Libyans,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. When asked if he will be a candidate in the future presidential elections, he replied that everything will depend on the conditions that will prevail then. But he wanted to make it clear that if he runs, he will represent all Libyans.

“If Libyans think I can make a difference, change things… then why not?” he added.

The United Nations is pushing for parliamentary elections to be held before the presidential ones. On August 22, the UN said, however, that in order to do this, a unified government must first be put in place, with the consent of all parties, to lead the country to elections.

The internationally recognized Government of National Unity (GNU) of Tripoli-based Abdelhamid Dbeiba has not been accepted by parliament, based in eastern Libya, after failing to hold national elections in 2021. Haftar said he did not have any “personal » issue with the existing government but a new government of technocrats should be appointed with a specific mission: to prepare the elections.

“We cannot have elections with the Dbeiba government. It’s impossible,” he commented. He also noted that free elections will not be held unless the security situation across the country improves.