El Mundo 22/4/2010

  • Source:El Mundo
  • Title:Mohamed Al Senussi - The Crown Prince of Libya in Exile
  • Date & Time:20 April 2011
  • "The Spanish Transition is a Model to Follow"


Since the beginning of the conflict to terminate the ruling dictatorship of Colonel Muamar Gadafi- the soldier that dethroned his great uncle, king Idris, in 1969- Mohammed Al Senussi, the crown prince of Libya, has left his discreet exile in London to become one of the most recognised opposition figures abroad. Building an extensive network of fellow countrymen in exile, the head of the Senussi dynasty, 48, has worked tirelessly over the past months to call for greater support for the Libyan rebels in key European capitals. 

“I appreciate very much all that the allies have done,” says Al Senussi from his home in London, having just recently appeared before the European Parliament in Brussels. “But we need so much help and there is still an enormous shortage of basics, such as milk powder for babies, medicine for the wounded, food; but I swear that we will never forget the work that has been carried out by NATO and fellow Arab countries to save countless civilians and support the cause of the Libyan people.” 

The crown prince clearly displays his pride when speaking of the rebels- some prefer to call them ‘liberators’ - in their struggle, which is  ‘truly heroic’ against the regime of a dictator. Al Senussi is well aware just how brutal Colonel Gadafi can be - up to 1987, the year that the Prince was expelled from the country, he was a targeted victim of the Colonel and was kept under house arrest for much of his youth. Gadafi had set fire to the prince’s family home, forcing him to live in a shack, and exhumed and desecrated the remains of his ancestors. 

Perhaps it is due to this familiarity with the regime that Al Senussi fully supports the position of the National Transitional Counsel- the governing body of the rebels- which says that the Colonel’s resignation is a necessary condition ahead of any peace talks. “I know Gadafi and I know that is a man without honour, a man who is dedicated to lying. It is impossible to negotiate with someone who only understands the language of deception” he states. Even if Gadafi leaves, the Crown Prince makes it clear that that would not absolve the crimes of the exiled leader of the Green Revolution: “The people want justice. The dictator has to answer for his crimes.”

Al Senussi says that he feels optimistic about the future of his native country when the fierce battle which are taking place in Libya come to an end. He also rejects the theory of the potential balkanization of the country months after fighting between rebels in the east and the forces loyal to the regime in Tripoli. “The division of the country is another story created by the absurd propaganda machine of Gaddafi’s regime. It is exactly the same as when he said that previous revolts against him were the work of Al Qaeda and he stays in power claiming that the country will fall apart if he goes. The reality is that Libya has been formed as a unity of many tribes a millennium ago and will stay together in the future.” The Prince says. 

Speaking of the future, Al Senussi says that he hopes for Libya to be ‘a model of democracy for the entire region’. The Prince stresses that when the war finishes, the most important thing is to put all emphasis on establishing a democratic government that ‘represents the interests of the people’. He also affirms that the National Counsel is a transitional body of government that is temporary and meant to ‘facilitate the organisation of a permanent government in the country’.

With regards to the shape that this permanent government can take, Al Senussi recognizes that a ‘constitutional monarchy is an option, but there are many others, including a republic. It is a question to be decided on by the people and manifested through a referendum’. 

However, the heir to the crown admits that the monarchy model can bring stability to their homeland and cites the role of the institution in the establishment of democracy in Spain as an example. ‘The UK, the Scandinavian countries and Spain are all examples of stability and freedom. During these key times it is important to revert back to history and in this sense, I think that the Spanish transition is a model to follow. Of course, there are differences- Libya is a country with a tribal system that does not exist in Spain, but we can learn a lot from the stability that the Spanish Crown brought to the country over the recent decades.’

However, Al Senussi insists that the republican option is equally valid and is willing to participate in whichever model is chosen by the people. ‘They can always count on my unconditional support,’ he concludes.