A Return to Constitutional Life
Back to “Square One”
(A follow-up to the LCU's Press
Release of 17th May 2005)
4 June 2005
Libyans in exile are engaged in vigorous discussions in
preparation and anticipation of the forthcoming “National
Conference of the Libyan Opposition”, to be convened in London on
25th and 26th June 2005.
There is virtual unanimity on the need to return to
“Constitutional Life” in a future Libya. This brings about a
mixture of optimism and frustration. On the one hand the call for
a return to constitutional life marks a significant level of
maturity among the Libyan Opposition. It indicates that they have
benefited from the experiences of their adopted countries, since
being expatriated from Libya by the brutalities and injustices of
the dictatorship ruling Libya since 1969.
the other hand, however, the insistence of some parties to return
to “square one” and indulge in drafting a new constitution and
thereby, in effect abolishing our nation’s constitutional roots
is really disheartening. In fact Gaddafi did exactly that, 36
years ago when he seized power through the force of the gun. He
first replaced the constitution with a pathetic version, hastily
drafted by President Nasser’s envoy to the putschists, the
notorious security officer, Mr Fathi El-Deeb. Then after a long
and costly period of confused and confusing attempts had his
“Great Green Document of Human Rights in the Jamahyria Era”,
adopted as the country’s de-facto constitution.
intentions have since become known even to those who didn’t read
them at the time, either through ignorance or hotheadedness. His
aim was to abolish Libya’s achievements throughout its short but
fruitful 18 years as an independent nation with its modern
constitutional experiment which started with the Independence and
ended with the Coup d’Etat. The intention was to later claim that
modern Libya was in fact born on 1st September 1969,
the day he led the “Al-Fattih Revolution” and that the
country’s history began since that event.
are in agreement with those who have reservations about the
country’s first constitutional experiment during the era of
Independence. However, we insist that it was a beginning, which
the people -who only just walked out of the darkness of
colonialism, poverty and ignorance - failed to fully appreciate
and practice. They were not much
different from the newly born state, which did not do enough to
consolidate it with the needed resolve.
however, does not justify squandering it or refrain from
developing it and use it as a launch pad to the future, for, in
spite of its shortcomings, it remains our Constitutional Roots.
is overcome with permanent fear that the distinction between
The Constitution and a constitution remains lost in the
futile discussions and debates. Failure to look beyond the blur
of the familiar and see the weight The Constitution adds to the
argument of the case will cost even more.
Constitutional culture of civilised nations did not come about in
a few decades, nor in a few generations. It evolved and developed
through long years of experimentation that had its share of
failure and success, until it finally reached its desired goals.
But none of the civilised nations had more than one starting
point. They would confront whomever would try to bring them back
to that point.
History will never forgive us if we,
abandon our peoples’ major historical gains –in their absence- or
be fooled by the September junta’s deception. Or worse still if
we followed its footsteps and adopted –or even called for-
drafting a new constitution to replace The People’s
Constitution, The Independence Constitution, The
Source of Legitimacy which we are now all calling for a return
For Violating the
Constitution and Ignoring it
are Two Faces of the