II Sole 31/3/2011

  • Source: Il Sole
  • Title: Heir to King Idris says “Give weapons to the rebels
  • Date & Time: 31 March 2011
  • Author: Leonardo Maisano

Prince Mohammed is ready to become King, if that is the will of his people. Although this is not an unlikely possibility for a Crown Prince, it is nonetheless an unexpected event in the life of Mohammed El Senussi, 48 years old, as Prince Mohammed has suffered first-hand under the harsh rule of Gaddafi. He said: “I am ready, that’s true, but only if this is the wish of my people. I shall serve them, if that is what they want”.

Prince Mohammed is the direct heir to the throne of King Idris, his great-uncle who was overthrown by Colonel Gaddafi in the coup of 1969. He remembers those days as a child. He remembers the attack on his father’s house – the Crown Prince who was destined to succeed King Idris – the arrests, and the devastation. He was only able to leave Libya in 1988 to go to London. Once there, he was not allowed to leave. His close family, those from the Al Madhi side, followed him and helped him to fight back against the regime.

“It has not been easy. We have organised opposition against Gaddafi. We have fought against Gaddafi together, even when the threat of the regime was present, such as in Lisbon in 2007 when we were attacked by Gaddafi’s son’s guards”. This has been Prince Mohammed’s occupation for years. He has never been tempted by business. He is alien to the petrodollars which are so common in London. He is instead an eccentric Arab without a Ferrari. Libyan diaspora subsidise him and his closer circle of family. Help though has arrived from other countries that are waiting for a sign to act.

Prince Mohammed wears a black suit, white shirt and a black tie. Concerning the sacrifice of his people and their ‘moral’ fight against Gaddafi, Mohammed El Senussi, has a flat voice when recounting his version of the facts. “I am satisfied with the outcome of the London conference. The results have been received with joy by the people of Libya who finally feel protected by the international community. Even Hillary Clinton understands the situation now. The end is close. It is a question of days, maybe hours. It is now only one man against six million citizens. More and more people close to the regime are abandoning the dictator. However, despite being a coward, Gaddafi will not give up his power: he came to power through force and it is more than likely that he will lose his power through force. This will probably come about by one of his supporters”.

Avoiding word play, and dodging metaphors, Mohammed El Senussi is clear of what destiny he feels awaits Colonel Gaddafi. “I realise that for the allies giving weapons to the rebels is a delicate decision, but our fighters need this to happen. There is a risk that the weapons will end up in the wrong hands, but, I repeat, our fighters need this to happen”. He pauses for breath and adds. “As for Gaddafi going into exile? The Libyan people want justice and justice means a process for those who have blood on their hands in a regime that has survived on lies. Which ones? The threat of Al-Qaeda, the risk of dividing the country, and talk of tribal oppositions, is only propaganda. The National Council of Benghazi has always said that Tripoli will be the capital”.

“Following four decades of dictatorship the situation cannot change overnight. The National Council is a temporary organisation which will act in a unanimous way without dividing. I ask the whole international community to support the Libyan people, not a dictator. I realise that Italy, important historically and geographically, has tried to do as much as possible but I would like to reassert that it is now essential to support a people that are soon to make a choice on their future.”

His own destiny follows that of a middle-aged man who has spent his life waiting for this moment. “I have always served Libya and I will continue to do so whether it be a republic or a monarchy. I will respect whatever the people decide. No one else can decide on behalf of the Libyan people.”