Crown Prince Mohammed El Senussi has delivered a heartfelt speech to the Libyan people on the occasion of our country’s 71st Independence Day. Reflecting on the country’s history with both pride and pain, the Crown Prince celebrated the first king of Libya, King Idris I’s achievement of uniting the country into one peaceful homeland, writes Alamin Abolmagir, deputy chairman of the Libyan Rally for Constitutional Legitimacy.
He also reminded the Libyan people of the promise and hope that those early years of independence brought; hope for a peaceful and prosperous future as an independent nation. Prince Mohammed juxtaposes this hope to the terrible situation on the ground at present, which clearly causes him great pain, empathising with the plight of the Libyan people.
Although nobody believed that the situation on the ground could get any worse, 2022 saw the political and security situation in Libya deteriorating further. December 2021 saw the indefinite postponement of elections, with there being little to indicate that the current political stalemate will be resolved peacefully any time soon. The divided Libya of today lacks unified national institutions and even more importantly, a cohesive sense of national identity.
A striking part of the speech, then, was the Crown Prince’s explicit calling out of domestic spoilers and international actors who played a central role in exacerbating an already terrible situation. Though he didn’t name names, since 2011 foreign involvement from multiple countries has been well-documented. For example, more recently in late 2019 evidence emerged that Russia had been sending mercenaries to support the Libyan National Army (LNA), to which Turkey responded by deploying troops in support of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in January 2020. Although just one example, this supporting of different factions has only served to divide instead of uniting, prolonging this period of division in Libya.
With regards to internal spoilers, the Crown Prince was scathing in highlighting how the greed of individuals has been a major cause of the conflict in our land. Calling out the misuse of Libya’s wealth, and the insatiable hunger for power and money, it is clear that the Crown Prince does not blame the international community alone for the terrible situation at present. Domestic self-interested actors must be removed from positions of power if Libya is to regain stability and prosperity.
Responding to this internal and external manipulation, the Crown Prince demanded an end to this ‘dark period of our history’, stating that the suffering which the Libyan people have endured over the last decade must come to an end. What is striking, therefore, is the way in which the Crown Prince, in delivering this speech, appears to have taken on a more active role in Libyan affairs than previously.
Prince Mohammed also actively outlined the steps that should be taken to restore Libya to peace and stability. According to his address, he has spent recent months meeting with Libyan and international representatives to listen to their concerns, but also to explain that the best way forward for the country is a restoration of a democratic constitutional monarchy via the 1951 Independence Constitution. The hundreds of thousands of on the ground grassroots supporters of this initiative, such as myself, would also affirm that this tried and tested system is the best means of securing liberty and safety for Libya’s citizens, and the best framework for conducting restoring order in the current chaos.
The extent to which this development is significant should not be understated. Indeed, while the Crown Prince has been heavily engaged in all matters Libya, he has, as of yet, not taken an active role in Libyan political affairs. Not seeking to actively pursue positions of power, he has chosen to lead from behind and encourage the powers that be to consider, first and foremost, the needs of our country. This has very obviously not been the case, with a range of actors instead seeking to promote their own agendas at the expense of our peoples’ well-being.
Prince Mohammed would certainly take upon himself a more active role if called upon. The 1969 military coup, which deposed the monarchy, deliberately created an atmosphere of stress and fear for the Crown Prince’s family. At only 7, the Crown Prince saw tanks surround his home and his family arrested. The leaders of the military coup then imprisoned his father, the then-Crown Prince Hassan, without a judicial process. Most of Prince Mohammed’s childhood was spent under house arrest, constantly surveilled by soldiers of the regime.
The family home was burned down, and all relatives were even banned from leading prayers. This calculated policy of forcing the family to stay out of public life was premised on the fear that they were a threat to the regime’s authority. Perhaps this was unsurprising, given that the Crown Prince’s family had been illegitimately deposed, and have remained popular amongst the Libyan people. It would appear that the powers that be today have a similar interest to keep the only legitimate ruler of our country out of their political game.
This year’s Independence Day address speech is therefore of tremendous significance to the future of Libya. Representing some much-needed hope at one of the most difficult times for the people of Libya, it is time the international community pressured actors on the ground to allow Libyans to return to their past, and embrace the only legitimate ruler of our nation, capable of restoring peace and security by instilling in our nation a sense of national identity and pride. It should not take the blood of any more citizens of our nation for the world to come to terms with the fact that this is the only way forward.
Alamin Abolmagir is the deputy chairman of the Libyan Rally for Constitutional Legitimacy. He currently resides in Tripoli, Libya and received a Bachelor's degree in Finance from Tripoli University and a PhD in Finance from the University of Wales.
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