Recently, despite the move of the
from Libya, international demands await
implementation. The Libyan
leadership announced that they have "yielded" to the decisions made by the "General
People's Congress" and have agreed to
hand over the two Libyans accused in the Lockerbie
affair. The leadership
added that they prefer
the trials to take place in Scotland,
where the Pan Am plane incident happened.
At the same time the UN Secretary
General, Dr Boutros Ghali said that Libya
was ready to receive UN inspectors to confirm
that Libya has closed down all terrorist
camps. Observers began to
talk of the conditions
Gadafi has accepted in order to
keep in power. Although, as
Sheikh Ben Ghalbon (the
chairman of the L C U) points out
the "serial" of events never intended to destroy
Gadafi because "countries whose interests
Gadafi served since coming to power
are protecting him" King
Idris before his death bestowed upon Ben Ghalbon the title of "Sheikh". Ben Ghalbon
said "I am particularly honoured with
the title because it is from King Idris". After imprisonment twice in Libya on fabricated charges where he suffered considerable physical torture, Ben Ghalbon decided
to leave his country. He waited for a favourable
opportunity before leaving with his
family to the UK.
In 1981, Sheikh Ben Ghalbon,
announced the establishment
of the L C U, which campaigned
for the return to the 1951 Constitution
and renewed allegiance to King Idris. Ben Ghalbon insists on the Libyan Constitution because as he said "the Constitution
was formulated first and on its basis
the Libyan state was founded". In
the Asharq Al-Awsat's weekly interview, Sheikh
Ben Ghalbon spoke about Libya, the Kingdom
of Libya chosen by the Libyans as a government system and added that "it may return
if the Libyans took the decision in a referendum
". Sheikh Ben Ghalbon
said that the road was
long and difficult and for the time
being Gadafi would remain in power. However,
now due to pressure from outside " he
will pretend to be constructive to win sympathy in the West and to gain time". Ben Ghalbon
added "the expected coming change, despite
its pretentious nature, will benefit the
Libyans and give them a breather after the
many years of hardship". He
said that the opposition
was fragmented and that there was
no hope for it reaching position of power, and
disagreed with the view that the fundamentalists
may take power when Gadafi's
regime collapses. He said
opposition is not ready to take charge and
govern, civil wars will break out between the
He added that the vacuum resulting
from Gadafi's reign forced the various tribes to arm
themselves, particularly after learning that
both Gadafi and Jallude have been arming
their respective tribes. In
this interview, Ben Ghalbon dismissed naming the September
military coup a revolution. In
order to rescue Libya from the cycle of military coups he called for a return to the Kingdom
system. However, he expressed reservations about the new Crown Prince, Prince Mohamed Sanussi, whom he knows and was
a close friend of his father. Prince Al-Hassan Al-Rida Sanussi.
Ben Ghalbon maintains
that "no joint
programme exists between
the L C U and Mohamed Sanusi".
Here is an account of the
Are you a realist?
I always live with facts and therefore I am
As a realistic man, do you seriously think that the return to the Kingdom system in Libya is possible?
Yes it is possible. The Kingdom system was the
result of the nation's wish based on a referendum
and therefore it has greater legality
and democratic value than any republic
in the region. There was a general referendum
in 1951 under the UN supervision,
and 75 of the Libyans chose the
Kingdom system at a time when Libya the Kingdom
did not exist and the Sanussi family were not a ruling family. Idris
Sanussi was then the
leader of the Libyan struggle for independence,
not a King. After the
collapse of the Italian
colonisation, Libya became under
the British administration and had no national
government system. One of
the conditions set for
granting independence was to
conduct a referendum so that the Libyans demonstrate
their ability to practice democracy.
Accordingly in 1951 the Libyans
chose, by majority, the Kingdom system
and also chose the King. At
that time several political parties were known,
about ten of them, only one of which actually
voted against the Kingdom system and
against Idris Sanussi, the Congress Party headed
by Bashir El-Sedawi. The Congress Party
disliked the Sanussis and planned to have El-Sadawi as the future head of state. However,
all other parties wished to have Idris
Sanussi as a King, if the Kingdom system
was chosen or as a president if a republican
system of government was chosen
When the coup took place in 1969, it presented nothing of value, on the contrary, it
became preoccupied with falsifying history
and destroying the achievement of the
nation. It never put forward any kind of political base to the country. Therefore,
when the regime collapses, the
Libyans will remain only
with their original political
ground. It would be impossible to return to the
Kingdom system had the coup been constructive
or presented a particular ideology.
The coup only led to confusion and disruption.
Perhaps the coup will be replaced
by a republic ?
There are two possibilities. The
regime collapses and the
nation goes back to their original
base and make a fresh start from there.
Or another coup occurs deposing the old. If another coup occurs we will force it, armed
with our efforts over 12 years, to take into
account seriously the Libyan Constitution,
the 1951 Constitution. It
should be remembered always that
the special feature of
the Libyan Constitution is that,
it existed before the state. Libya
gained its independence in accordance to the Constitution.
The political vacuum may continue?
In that case change is possible
because political vacuum is merely a continuation of Gadafi's
era. We will depose Gadafi sooner or later.
We in the LCU oppose military coups and it pains
us to witness the tragic consequences of
the military coups which have plagued the Arab
world. We consider that
the failures and defeats of the
Arab nations are the consequences of military
coups. We depend on
the Libyan public in
removing Gadafi and his regime. Our
efforts are such that the concept of change
be from the Libyan public not from the
military or from a single political party. During
the past years we focused on returning
democracy and modern political concepts
to the minds of the Libyans.
Our hope is that
the change will be forced by the Libyan
street and tribes in the direction of the
But this route requires time and patience?
We are not in a hurry. Gadafi
remains in power, we move
accordingly. We may not
is clear to us that Gadafi is serving certain international interests, he is protected by the
beneficiaries, therefore he will remain in power
for some time yet.
you tried to lead the Libyan
public in large demonstrations
demanding the reinstatement of
Circumstances are not suitable for such a
step. Perhaps in the future, when changes are
forced on Gadafi, we may be able to undertake
such a step. Before the
necessary changes, such a
call would endanger the lives of
people and lead to no positive outcome,
only to blood shed.. I point here to the fact that
the L C U does not offer itself as an alternative
to govern and therefore we do not advertise
influence or exercise muscles.
the LCU then?
we wish to liberate our country and take
it back to the civilised free world.
We wish to live in
our country as free citizens with
a constitution that stands between us and
the ruler, giving each his responsibilities
and rights. However, if
events and circumstances called
upon us to play a
political role we will be obliged to comply
you have significant popular
weight inside Libya?
influence on the Libyan people is our weight, we perceive total positive response. Today
because of the efforts of the LCU the constitutional
call dominates. Now, the
desire for the 1951 Constitution to be the reference
in the interim period, and for the system
of government after Gadafi falls to be decided
through a national referendum, have become
public demands. The
evidence for this is that the opposition groups,
who completely rejected this call at first because it conflicted with their interests since they aimed to reach position of
power and govern, found that they can no longer
avoid adopting the constitutional call. However,
attempting to avoid the issue they say
"we would prepare a constitution". The opposition ought to remember that Libya has
a Constitution and no one has the right to make
any amendments to it except an elected parliament.
Gadafi considers the green book as
his constitution. If
the opposition sat outside
Libya and drafted a new constitution, what
difference would there be between the green
book and such a constitution?
Any how the opposition have now recognised the
need for the Constitution. Some
unreservedly say the 1951 Constitution and fly
the national flag but others remain ambiguous
and talk about a constitution to be prepared.
However, the main thing is that the
constitutional theme has become a primary
talking point. We, the LCU,
formed our movement in
1981 on the basis of the 1951
Constitution and raised the Libyan national
flag as our banner. Our
colleagues in the
opposition described it as a "reactionary
flag" and called our movement a "step
backwards". We called all to rally round King Idris, the only man with the international legitimacy and the only constitutionally elected Libyan ruler.
Why did the King not defend his
With what ? A military coup took place, the King
did not wish to shed Libyan blood. When
we announced the formation of the LCU our
objectives conflicted with the aspirations of
certain opposition parties who believed that
Gadafi would fall within a year leaving them to take power and therefore why bother to
declare allegiance to the King? The
LCU was the only party which publicly declared its
allegiance to King Idris.
have said in one of your publications
"we renewed allegiance to
the King to show our gratitude and to
defend him". This
seems to suggest that the
LCU is for public relations
and not for political activities?
In our first launch announcement, we called for
rallying round the King in order to depose
the present regime. This
was a political step calling for active participation from
which resulted a gesture to the King. We
saw rallying round the King as the step preventing
Libyans getting into the cycle of military
coups. I return to the
opposition, the constitution and
the national flag. Some
(the National Front for the Salvation of Libya) raised a different flag (blue and gold) during
the 80's. However, after the popularity of the constitutional wave, they took
up the national flag and the King's portrait.
This means- that they stand-by you?
No, they had to compromise and
ride the band wagon.
seems the relations are strained among the opposition?
are no relations to strain. The
opposition groups have come to realise that in order to remain
politically viable, they
must call for the Constitution or for a constitution,
and raise the national flag and salute
the hero of the Libyan struggle for independence. King Idris Sanussi.
one of your publications you stated
that "King Idris was betrayed by
the military". If the
Kingdom system returns to
Libya, as the LCU wishes,
would a strong army be formed,
or would there be fears from a
strong army to initiate another coup?
Libya returns to be a civilised society,
which is prosperous and stable
there will be no fears from a strong army. Gadafi's regime has
taught all sections of the Libyan society a
lesson where for centuries to come there will
be no coups or departure from the Constitution.
Gadafi maintained a strong
The incompetence of Gadafi's army was demonstrated
in Chad. Gadafi sent the
best units of the army
with the most advanced of equipment,
and despite the fact that Chad is one
of the poorest countries in Africa, the army
came out with a most humiliating defeat.
noticed that Gadafi added female
soldier units to the army, are
these actually fighting
They are merely for publicity. He calls them
the "revolutionary nuns".
They act as his
personal bodyguards, and to pose to other
leaders in the region as a man of new ideas. As for the competence of these "nuns" as
soldiers and as bodyguards was shown during
the non-aligned countries summit in Yugoslavia
when one of them bit a Yugoslav security
man. Such practices are
major embarrassments to
us. We feel ashamed of
having Colonel Gadafi as the
leader of our country. His "revolutionary nuns" bite people
and his strongest army units failed to defeat
Libya intended to take over all
sent his forces to Chad for that
about the Auozo strip?
Auozo strip was an excuse. His
forces went deep into
Chad. But they failed to even capture
Auozo. The Chadian forces chased the Libyan army deep
into Libyan territories. It
was a disgrace.
is the new Crown Prince and
what are his plans?
do not know. There is no
working plan connecting
the LCU and the pretender to the throne.
But do you not know who the new
crown prince is ?
in the LCU have stated, since the
formation of the Union, the
necessity for a national
referendum to consider the type of government
system followed by the selection of
a leader, exactly as was the selection of King Idris.
Libyans may choose a different
system, a non-kingdom system?
and we stand by the people's
means that you do not agree
with the appointment of the new
Crown Prince through the Will
left by his father?
neither disagree nor agree. It
does not concern us, it is a family affair. We have no views
in the matter. We and
Prince Mohamed Sanussi do not have any
joint political programme. Naturally
I know him, his late father was a personal friend. Till the day of his
death we held intensive
meetings with him, he held a legitimate
the new Crown Prince have a
legitimate constitutional right
if his father had been a
would as a proposed crown prince only. This
legitimacy would distinguish him from other candidates. The LCU
did not acclaim any one
individual after King Idris including the
late Crown Prince, Al-Hassan Al-Rida Sanussi. We maintained our
position regarding the
call for a national referendum to
decide. The late Prince Al-Hassan had the distinction
of having been proposed by the King,
he was constitutionally appointed Crown
Prince. But he was not
confirmed by the
parliament. However if he had wished to claim
his right to the throne, we would have supported
him because he held more rights to
it than any other Libyan. As
for his sons, they do not have this privilege.
He was not a king to pass on the right
of succession to them. Even
if we suppose that he
had, this would still require confirmation
by the parliament. For this
reason we hold reservations on the contents
of the Will regarding the inheritance
by Prince Mohamed Sanussi of the
position of Crown Prince.
Al-Hassan not show you the Will?
despite the fact that we were close
the death of King Idris, did
you ask the opposition to
declare allegiance to
Crown Prince Al-Hassan?
LCU did not say "The King is dead, long leave
the King", but we did say to the opposition groups let us re-form the National Assembly,
like the one in 1951. However,
the opposition parties wasted two
first was when they failed to declare allegiance
to King Idris when he was alive where
they could have eradicated their differences
and formed an internationally recognised
body since the King's legitimacy was
Had the opposition
groups taken that step, they would
now have the status of a government in exile
enjoying international recognition.
second opportunity was on the day King Idris
died when the opposition groups rejected
our call to form a National Assembly incorporating all groups, so that it becomes the
nucleus for future national political parties. At any rate I am now hopeful that such a step may still be possible because the constitutional
thought has become very strong
among the Libyan public. Furthermore,
opposition parties have now come
to realise that Gadafi is not about to leave.
It is now well understood that the situation
is more complex than had been estimated
and that there is a need for each other's
seems that you have neither trust
nor hope in the opposition
it continued to be as it is now, no,.I do not have
any hope in it. It can not
play any effective role.
However, at present discussions
are going on to make use of the opportunity
and form a National Assembly. Commonly
shared views are now many.
many opposition parties are
you still threatened by Gadafi?
now is not capable of harming any
one except those who live under
his rule, all of the Libyan public could be regarded as hostages.
exiles living abroad are now safe from
his terrorist activities because his claws have been clipped. Gadafi's
international problems are now
such that he can no
longer freely move as he did during the eighties. I faced
Gadafi's danger in the past though. There was an attempt to assassinate me in 1981,
and another in 1984. We
lived for a long period
under armed protection by British
Police. At one time we were under their protection for two months, we were more or less prisoners. One
of Gadafi's hit squads
managed to enter the UK with
the objective of
assassinating me. The
group could not be traced by the police who became very
concerned about our safety and decided to
provide us with "close" protection, till this group
could be located. We, my
family, my brother and
myself became effectively prisoners
for a time. When relations
between Libya and Britain
worsened and it became
difficult for suspect Libyans to enter the
UK, we regained our freedom.
provides financial support for
LCU since its establishment received no financial support from anyone or any country. Our
activities were supported from within
the organisation, from our own private funds.
It is for this reason that some claim that
the LCU is a small organisation not requiring
financial support. This is
Certain other opposition parties made these claims in order to facilitate financial support exclusively for them. For instance in 1984 when relations between Gadafi
and Saddam Hussein deteriorated, the Iraqi
president adopted the Libyan opposition
groups and provided facilities for them
to hold a conference in Baghdad. All
groups, except the LCU, received
considerable financial help from
Saddam. We declined the
invitation and refused to attend
the conference. It was
difficult for us to
campaign for the freedom of the Libyans from
Baghdad, where the Iraqi's own freedom had
no value or meaning. We
found it impossible to travel to Baghdad and
oppose Gadafi from there while our Iraqi brothers
live in exile all over the world. Actually
they experienced living in exile before
us. We therefore refused to
stand up in Baghdad,
which suffers from Sadam's oppression
and campaign for the independence
seems that the Libyan opposition parties,
much like all other Arab opposition,
failed to keep their independence.
They are influenced by
relations between Libya and other countries?
the LCU. We have not
committed ourselves to
any one. We did not build a
reputation at the expense of
Gadafi's conflicts and
suddenly lost it when relations improved.
Our pace may be slow but it is firm and steady.
you have access to a broadcasting
service directed to Libya?
we decline use of one. We were offered part use of a broadcasting facility operated from
Khartoom during Numeiri's rule. We do not
think as politicians, we think as concerned
Arab nationals who refuse to take advantages
of fellow Arab's difficulties. We
refuse to operate from an Arab
country ruled by a
military coup. We are
attempting to introduce a
new political thought which may be
used to break out of the cycle of military coups.
you now expect an open policy
from Libya towards the US and
Britain as was recently
suggested by newspapers
am sure this will happen. Gadafi
has embarked on a new
policy. He made
substantial concessions to the British government regarding his connections with the
IRA as he did to the US and the West by kicking
the Palastinians out, naming them terrorist
and leaking their confidential information
and plans. He has also
accepted, seemingly according to
the recommendations made
by "Libyan General Assembly",
to hand over the two suspects of the
Lockerbie incident. The
West now is seriously
considering improving relations with
Gadafi, since he is complying with all demands
made of him. In the
past it was rather
difficult for the West to deal openly with
him, now he declared that he ceased his terrorist
activities and would no longer finance
terrorist organisations, thus making the situation much more easy for the West. However;
he is incapable of change, he was born
a terrorist and he will die a terrorist. He
was forced to compromise to bargain for survival.
We expect the step he will take to show
the West that he is becoming more democratic
and constructive will be to accommodate,
in the name of all Libyan opposition,
a certain category of the opposition,
those who never actually rejected him
and considered him as a leader of a revolution rather than the organiser of a coup.
The opposition who believed that the revolution deviated from its path.
Gadafi is now in
discussions with Abdul Mounim Al-Hooni (ex member of the Revolutionary
Command Council), Mr Ezzideen
Al-Ghadamsi (ex Libyan
Ambassador) and with Dr. Mahmood
Al-Maghrabi (the first Prime Minister
after the coup d'etat). It
is entirely possible that
these figures will soon form an opposition
forum inside the country and reconcile
differences with Gadafi, thus the West
will be led to believe that he made peace
with the Libyan opposition and its leaders.
is said that the West made an
offer to Gadafi to remain as a
non-executive leader and appoint a government
incorporating known personalities
from the opposition such
as Mr Hooni?
world forgets that those who worked with
Gadafi at one time or another, even after moving to the opposition side, remain trained to
obey him. Gadafi rules alone and has shadows around him. No
body of substance can
exist beside him. There are
suggestions that Jallude
is in dispute with Gadafi. If
Jallude was capable of differing with Gadafi, he
would have been dead long ago.
The publicised dispute is merely a play designed by
Gadafi. All who actually differed with Gadafi
are either dead or left the country. Jallude
is still the "second man", because he salutes
Gadafi day and night. The
opposition who will be accepted by Gadafi
is not in reality an opposition, it extends from the system and its leaders used to
be employees with Gadafi, well disciplined to
did Gadafi not have the two
Lockerbie suspects killed thus
avoiding the demands made by the
West to hand them over?
reason is, had he done so he would frighten
his intelligence officers and shake their loyalty to him. If
the intelligence services
see that he began to have them killed,
the system would collapse. He
does not give his own
people away. He is always
anxious to demonstrate that who serves him will
benefit. At one time, he managed to have two
Libyans charged by German courts freed. He
paid heavily to have them freed and returned
to Libya. This type of action raises the
spirits and resolute of his terrorists.
observers suggest that an
agreement was reached between
the West and Gadafi
whereby he will be allowed
to remain in power and all the
peoples committees will continue to
function in return for contorlling the
out put and export levels of Libyan
crude oil and its price ?
1985 Gadafi has strived to improve relations
with the US and win their approval and
recognition and therefore the Americans do not need actually to concede any thing. He
yearns to have this wish fulfilled.
What has been happening is a play to demoralise Gadafi
and force him into making greater concessions
thus making it possible for the West
to deal with him without having to answer
difficult questions from their own respective
parliaments and oppositions benches.
Now, the international community
will offer Gadafi another
lease to remain in power.
the assassination of the
Algerian president (Budiaf) and
the accusation of the
Islamic Salvation Front
with the assassination, some observers
say that it may be wiser to contend
with Gadafi in Libya and leave
him in power because the opposition
is not ready and if Gadafi was
to fall religious extremist may take
power in Libya ?
opposition is not ready to govern. This is a fact. If Gadafi falls
now, neither religious
extremists nor opposition parties will
take over power, civil war may break out in the country. Libya is now on the brink of civil
Libyan tribes. The
years of political vacuum
have eroded the strength and
ties of the Libyan society and taken it back
to more or less how it was before World War
One as far as tribal friction and lack of state authority are concerned.
Tribal power and
allegiances have returned to the way they were before independence. Now, Libyan tribes are busy forming alliances. Absence of
state authorities led individual
tribes to provide their own protection.
Tribes are now actively arming themselves.
do tribes obtain the arms
in Libya one
can acquire a
Kalashnikoff rifle for 200 Dinars. Army personnel trade in arms, and besides, the authority
is arming certain tribes. Gadafi
is arming his own tribe (Gadadifa tribe)
and their allies (WerfallaTribe).
Some of the
strongest army units, based in Sirt (the
Middle province), come from these two tribes.
These tribes consider the army as their
own force and not really a national Libyan
army. Gadadfa and Warfalla tribes are particularly active in forging alliances with
many smaller tribes. Jallude
is officially arming his own tribe (Magarha). Other
tribes in the country are anxiously monitoring
these activities and come to realise
that if the regime falls and all traces of
security disappeared, they will be overwhelmed
by the heavily armed Gadadfa and
Magarha and their allies.
For this reason
all other tribes are busy arming their own.
It is worth noting here that
Libya has a history of
civil wars, it lived through more than
one civil war. There was a
war in the Western region
between Warfalla and Misrata tribes
which continued for several years and resulted
in much destruction and bloodshed. Another
war broke between Awlad Sulaiman and
Al-Hosoon tribes in the West.
In the East there
was a war between the West Line tribes
and the East Line tribes which lasted for
tens of years.
did these wars not spread all over
that time Libya did not exist as a united state.
Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan existed
as separate states. It was
King Idris who united
them. Going back to the subject of civil war, there was one in Cyrenaica between the Saadi tribes. Sections
of the same tribes broke
away and fought each other.
Cousins killed each other in wars between
Barasa and Dersa on the one side and Obeidat
tribes on the other. Much
Libyan blood was shed in civil wars. The
situation only settled down with the First
and Second World Wars because of the incoming
of foreign forces to the region. One of
the most important achievement of King Idris when he first took charge was stopping civil
wars between Libyan tribes. We
should not forget the major war in Cyrenaica which lasted
for almost forty years between Saadi tribes
and their sub-tribe, the Awlad Ali tribes.
Saadi tribes expelled all of
Awlad Ali to Egypt. They now Live in Salloum and Matrouh in Egypt. They
wear Libyan national
dress and have Egyptian nationality.
you mean that if Col. Gadafi fell
several civil wars will break out
is at present on the brink of civil war.
The clouds of civil war have been darkening
is so if Gadafi fell, but if the West
decided to keep him in power what
kind of future awaits Libya?
the West decided to keep him in power then the Libyans will get some temporary relief from the usual oppression and injustice because Gadafi will want to prove to the
West that he seriously intends to fulfill his
undertakings to improve conditions starting
with his own position. He
will take full advantages of the readiness of the West to
have open dealings with him and strengthen
these relations . He could
only achieve this through relieving the
oppressions and constraints on the Libyan
public to appear forgiving and win time.
This will be an enormous change to those
living in Libya.
he hand over the two Lockerbie
did Gadafi not speak at the end
of the "General People's
as to give the impression that the Libyan public
make the decisions, he only implements.
The "Congress" was actually held
to approve the surrender of the two suspects. The astonishing thing about Gadafi is this. Normally when
states face crisis, their
leaders accept full responsibilities to save
the states' reputation and standing. Gadafi
does the opposite. He blames the state and its people and charges them with responsibility to save himself.
he actually closed down the
has, and kicked out all those who were in them.
He handed over all of their confidential
materials and plans to the countries
concerned. He turned
them into exposed cards.