TUNIS — Nearly 100 candidates declared they were running for president, a few of them among the most prominent in Libyan politics. More than a third of Libyans registered to vote, and most signaled their intention to cast ballots.

Western leaders and United Nations officials had thrown their support behind the election, one they said represented the best hope of reunifying and pacifying a country still largely divided in two and dazed from nearly a decade of internecine fighting.

For more than a year now, Libya has been hurtling toward a long-awaited presidential election scheduled for Friday, the 70th anniversary of the country’s independence. But with just a few days to go, the vote looks virtually sure to be postponed as questions swirl about the legitimacy of major candidates and the election’s legal basis.

Amid the uncertainty, the national election commission dissolved the committees that had been preparing for the vote, essentially conceding that it would not occur on schedule. For now, it was the closest thing Libyans were likely to get to a formal announcement, given all parties’ reluctance to make such a declaration and take the blame.

A delay poses the risk that the oil-rich North African nation will again descend into the fragmentation and violence that have marked the decade since the dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was toppled and killed in the 2011 revolution.

Though no one has formally announced a change in plans, government officials, diplomats and Libyan voters alike have acknowledged that voting on Friday would be impossible. The question now is not only when a vote might take place, but whether a postponed election would be any

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