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TRIPOLI: Libya’s election commission on Saturday delayed publication of a final list of candidates for a presidential election scheduled in less than two weeks.

It is just the latest twist in a UN-led effort targeting December 24 presidential polls intended to help the oil-rich North African country move past a decade of violence.

The process has been undermined by bitter divisions over the legal basis for the elections, their dates, and who should be allowed to run, with a string of controversial figures stepping forward.

Publication of the final candidate list is supposed to mark the formal start of the election campaign, but the election commission did not give a new date for issuing the list.

Rules governing the ballot — which would be the first time a Libyan head of state is chosen by universal suffrage — say the commission should publish the list of candidates two weeks after final court rulings and appeals related to candidacies.

On December 2 a Libyan court reinstated Seif al-Islam Kadhafi, a son of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi, as a candidate.

A day earlier, an appeals court in Tripoli rejected petitions against the candidacy of interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, who heads the Tripoli-based unity government established in March and charged with leading the country to presidential and legislative elections.

Libya descended into chaos with the NATO-backed 2011 revolt that overthrew and killed Moamer Kadhafi.

A year of relative peace followed an October 2020 ceasefire between warring eastern and western camps, but analysts have warned that violence could easily flare again surrounding the elections.

A statement on the election commission’s website said it must still adopt a series of judicial and legal measures “before proceeding to the publication of the definitive list of candidates and the start of their electoral campaign”.

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