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Libyan Constitutional Union  




بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


The Libyan Constitutional Union:

 Its Establishment and Development

A Documentary Article by Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

(Summary Translation from Arabic)


Readers of this series of documentary articles will be able to examine a narrative of historical events that took place in an important period in the history of our country.  I am of the opinion that it is a duty to the homeland to record and publish these historical events, so that we do not lose contact with that important part of our contemporary history.  As the narrative of these events deals with the stances of some individuals who were active participants in them, it becomes essential that these stances be recorded in their proper contexts.  The intention behind the publication of these accounts, almost a quarter of a century after their occurrences, is not to criticise or denigrate the individuals who were active participants in them. Rather, this publication is a modest attempt to uncover and clarify part of our history that has passed over in silence.  Thus, I hope that this aim should not be misconstrued and the writer of this article should not bear the responsibility for the cynical interpretations by others of its content.

  This page contains parts 1 - 15  
  Please click to go to parts 16 onwards  
Part (1) Part (2) Part (3) Part (4) Part (5)
Part (6) Part (7) Part (8) Part (9) Part (10)
Part(11) Part (12) Part (13) Part (14) Part (15)





Part (1)

(First published in Arabic on 11th June 2006)

Quest to obtain King Idris’s consent


 The idea of writing this documentary article was dictated by Mr Faraj El-Fakhri’s enquiry in his article “The Squandered Opportunities” in which he asked:

“Why did the LCU not succeed in attracting The Libyan opposition groups around its slogans during that early period [1981]?  These are the same slogans adopted and raised today by Libyan opposition movements.  Chief among these slogans was the call raised by the LCU at its inception to rally around King Idris I, who was still alive then.  This in reality was a call to rally around the symbol of constitutional legitimacy of Libya [1]

 Mr El-Fakhri continued his article by expressing the hope that the LCU founder members would undertake the task of explaining all the circumstances that led to the squandering of the opportunity that the LCU provided the Libyan opposition with, in asking them to unite in support of the Libyan Constitution. This demand which was ignored 25 years ago has now become a key demand of the Libyan opposition [2].

 Mr El-Fakhri further expands his narrative with the enquiry as to why the LCU was not successful in realising its goals (mentioned above), and followed that by asking another question of two parts:

o         “Was this failure due to the incompetence and the inability of the leadership of the LCU, at that time, to explain and communicate their idea to the others?

o         Or does the shortcoming arise as a result of the conflict of concepts and ideas among the competing opposition movements?”  

He concludes by asking the founders of the Libyan Constitutional Union to provide answers and explanations to an era full of events, facts and secrets which in their totality are the reason behind “squandering that opportunity” [3].

Previously, I had always had the intention and the resolve to talk about this important era in the history of our homeland; however my fear for the hurt that this might cause to the people who participated in its events, due to their dishonourable stance, has prevented me so far from doing so. I constantly delayed talking about this era and waited for the time when the circumstances are right, more accommodating and accepting for such an action.   I consider the current circumstances may be more suitable to deal with these important events in our homeland’s recent history.

When I resolved to have a written record about these important and thorny events I thought it sensible to suggest to Mr Farag Elfakhri, whose questioning gave rise to writing about these events, that he puts together this record in a suitable writing style.

I immediately telephoned Mr El-Fakhri and suggested we meet to answer his line of questioning, and asked if it was possible for him to write and edit the answers then to send them to me to review for publication on the Libyan web sites.  Mr El-Fakhri’s response to undertaking this difficult task was agreeable and welcoming.  We agreed to meet in Leeds to start the narration of the information of this period to him while recording it on cassette tapes.  Our meetings started in October 2005 (Ramadan 1426) in the presence of my brother Hisham.  The narration took six separate meetings.

Furthermore, the narrative will be in the first person pronoun in the same fashion it was received by the editor.


** *** **

The beginning

 When I decided, in the early 1980’s, to convert the idea of establishing the Libyan Constitutional Union, which was ripe in my mind for some time, into a reality it was imperative that I get in touch with the late King Idris (may Allah bestow His mercy on his soul) who embodied the Constitutional legitimacy to rule Libya.  He was usurped of that rule by a group of low ranking officers who staged a coup d’etat in September 1969.

It was important that this should be the first step, as the issue of the Constitutional legitimacy to rule is part of the foundation and one of the principles upon which the idea of establishing the Libyan Constitutional Union was based.

So I embarked on attempting to gain access to King Idris. That was not an easy task.  It was an ordeal with many obstacles that I had to overcome.

The late King had been living in Cairo as a political refugee since the staging of the military coup in Libya, in a villa in the suburb of Dokki in Cairo, which was assigned to him by the Egyptian Office of the President.  He was forbidden by the Egyptian authorities to deal with political affairs or to receive any person active politically against the military government in Libya.  A team of Egyptian security personnel, headed by a veteran officer was appointed to serve, protect and keep a continuous watch over the king.

It was very difficult to pass through the security cordon imposed on the King’s residence and to reach him through the normal means. The very close watch over the King’s person and his movements isolated him from the outside world except for few relatives or old close friends.

Therefore, there was no way for me to get in touch with the King except through one of these few persons who used to visit him and his estimable family. 


** *** **

Contacting the King:

After getting in touch with many in the circle of my personal connections and looking carefully and persistently for information from every source, I managed to approach an honest and dependable person from among the few who had direct contact with the King. I asked this person to convey a message from me to the King. I stated in this message my wish to visit His Majesty to talk to him about my resolve to found The Libyan Constitutional Union, and to renew -on behalf of my self, my family and collegues- our pledge of allegiance to His Majesty as the constitutionally legitimate ruler of Libya.  And to proceed thereafter -with his permission- towards urging Libyan notables from various regions of the country to do the same in public – by publicising it in the international media.

It is important to emphasise that the pledge of allegiance here does not imply that the Libyan people’s pledge of allegiance to the King before Independence had withered or that it had lost its legitimacy, on the contrary, The King’s constitutional legitimacy was rooted in the unanimous desire of the entire nation for him to be their King and this constitutional legitimacy could not be revoked by an illegitimate act.

Renewal of the pledge of allegiance means the affirmation of the continuity of the old pledge of allegiance, and proof that it has not lost its holding force, for the new pledge of allegiance – in its essence- is considered a symbolic pledge of allegiance re-affirming the old one, and referring to its genuine legitimacy.  Proving that the pledge of allegiance to the King and calling on him to resume his role as ruler of the country is a legitimate and constant right that time has not erased, nor revoked by the usurping of authority by force.

And so this praiseworthy person continued to convey my successive oral messages to the late King. This had lasted for many months approaching a whole year. I was careful in these messages to King Idris to affirm my hope that he might not deprive his people of his blessing and the bestowing of his legitimacy on our call upon him to be the legitimate ruler of the country.

In all my messages to King Idris, I was appreciatively and considerately aware of his ascetic way of life, his reluctance to rule or hold power and his loath to return to office and resume its burdensome duties.  However, there was an overwhelming necessity imposing itself on this case and making his approval inescapable This necessity went beyond the personal desires latent in this pious and devout King, and would not accept from him –or anybody in his station- compliance with his own personal preferences.  This necessity dictated that the late King consent to providing, the sacred task of liberating the home land, with his blessings.

If it had not been for the above mentioned necessity, I would not have dared to approach the devout and pious king on the subject concerning the legitimate right to rule the country

There was therefore a heavy price for King Idris to pay, as he had no interest to rule at his advanced age and he wished to spend the rest of his life in worship and meditation.

Therefore, I took care in my oral messages to King Idris to emphasize that his consent to give this noble task his blessings was imperative to open the way to liberate Libya.  Thus providing this endeavour with legal and legitimate support which the world would pay attention to.  And on the other hand this approval would create the leadership and symbol which the Libyan Opposition was in dire need of.

In my successive messages, I affirmed to the late King my full consideration to his weak health and old age.  Further, at that time I thought that, and in keeping with my belief that only Allah knows when one dies, The Creator might not give him the time to witness the struggle for the liberation to its end.  However, it was of the utmost importance to obtain his blessings for the call upon him to be the legitimate ruler of the country, for he would provide, by giving his consent, blessings and an honourable seal to the struggle to regain the freedom of the country with its necessary means and materials.  And even if Allah willed that he would die before the end of this struggle, then the struggle would definitely continue with the authority derived from his constitutional legitimacy.

I made sure that my oral messages were detailed enough to cover all aspects of this matter which would neither strain the King nor burden him with too much responsibility. Further, it would not breach his undertaking to the Egyptian authorities concerning his non-involvement in politics.

On the spiritual front, I was adamant that he not leave this world before remedying the hurt and injury he was feeling as a result of his people’s failure to defend him when he was affronted by the dregs of society.  I was seeking his forgiveness of the Libyan people in the hope that through it they would find a way out of their ordeal.

So at this stage it only remained to meet His Majesty, and this meeting would implicitly mean his approval of the content of my messages. This was the beginning of another arduous journey, for as I have explained before, his meeting was very difficult to arrange. For there were not only the Egyptian security apparatuses watching the King 24 hours a day but also “Haj Mohammad El-saifat” who, as a result of his old relationship with the King, gave himself the right to decide who should visit the King and who should not.


To be continued….

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

8th July 2006

[1] Part two of “The Squandered Opportunities”, posted on “Libya Our Home” on 23rd September 2005.

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid


Top of the Page                                                        Original Arabic


Many thanks to Mustafa for undertaking the arduous task of translating this document from Arabic.


This part was published on the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , Libya Al-Mostakbal" , "Al-Manara"







 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (2)

(First published in Arabic on 14th June 2006)


Quest to obtain King Idris’s consent


Paving the way for a meeting with The King:

 As I have previously explained, having passed to the King my messages regarding my intention to establish the LCU, all that was remaining was to meet His Majesty to renew the allegiance and then announce the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union.  I have also mentioned in part 1 that meeting the King was neither an easy matter nor an easily attainable goal, for to meet him, one had to overcome several difficulties, namely getting through the vigilant Egyptian security, or gaining the acceptance and the consent of Haj El-Saifaat, who gave himself the authority - by virtue of the old relationship that he had with the King- to vet the individuals who would like to visit the King and would decide who could see him and who could not.

Fortunately, I did not have to go through either of these two channels.  The visit was arranged, with the king’s permission, by the person who acted as the link between the King and I.  Furthermore, this visit would not be an occasion where I repeated what had already been communicated to the King through this intermediary.  The meeting would finalize the aspects contained in my messages to him, for me to pledge my allegiance and for him to give his blessing to the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union.

The intermediary and I agreed to meet in Egypt during the month of August (1981).  We agreed that I would wait for this person (the intermediary) to telephone me at my father’s house in Alexandria.  I had travelled from Manchester to Alexandria during the agreed upon period but after sometime there I was not contacted as previously agreed.

Due to my good knowledge of the extent of honesty, nobleness, generosity and good intentions of this individual, I was sure a situation must have presented itself that prevented the contact

I found myself in a dilemma; I was not in favour of resorting to either of the two channels mentioned previously in this regard, due to the sensitive nature of my visit to The King, which made it unwise to reveal it to anybody yet.  However, I was forced to contact Haj Mohamed El-Saifaat who knew the intermediary, and asked him to pass my phone number to our mutual friend to contact me urgently in Alexandria, for I had been entrusted to deliver something to that person prior to my return to the UK.  I made this excuse to Hajj El-Saifaat to avoid telling him about my previous and next contact with King Idris.

Shortly afterwards the intermediary contacted me and apologised profusely for not getting in touch with me in the specified period due to losing my telephone number, and that all attempts to get my number from others had failed.  The intermediary informed me at once that an appointment had been arranged for me to visit the King to finalise the noble aim I dedicated my self and my team to accomplishing.

On the specified day of this visit, the intermediary arranged a meeting for me with Mr Omar Shelhi, who I was informed, had volunteered for the task of accompanying me, hence facilitating my entry to the King’s residence through the Egyptian security apparatuses.  That would be the first time I ever met Mr. Omar Shelhi.


** *** **


In the presence of the King:


I met Mr. Shelhi on the specified date at a predetermined location.  From there we went in his car to the King’s residence in the suburb of Dokki.

As soon as the car stopped in front of the villa we entered through a gate that was surrounded by Egyptian security men who greeted and welcomed Mr. Shelhi, whom they knew very well and therefore neither stopped him, nor checked the identity of the person who accompanied him.

As we entered the sitting room, my companion introduced me to King Idris and Queen Fatima whose warm and affectionate welcome made me feel very happy and at ease.

I addressed the King and expressed my feelings of deep sorrow and regret for the suffering and pain he had to endure in his exile away from his homeland and people for whom he spent his entire life to achieve their independence.  I dissociated my self from what the dregs of society had inflicted on him, and made clear to him my profound awareness of his grand spiritual rank.  I then expressed my renewal of allegiance to him as the King of Libya.

I told him I would like to know his verdict concerning what he had examined regarding the matter of the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union and the call upon him to be the legitimate ruler of the country.  The reply of the pious King was brief but eloquent and decisive.  He looked at me and quoted from verse 3 of Surat Al-Fath:

“May Allah make your victory an impregnable victory”  " ينصُرَك الله نصراً عزيزاً

I kissed the King’s hand and departed, totally overwhelmed with happiness and joy, I felt my feet could hardly touch the ground.  My arduous efforts to obtain his consent and blessing to continue in this patriotic and task were crowned with success.

Mr Omar Shelhi accompanied me to the outside gate of the villa and as we got into the car he asked me about my destination.  When I replied he said that the distance was short and he suggested that we could walk it together.

I understood at once that he wanted to talk to me about the subject matter that I came to see the King for, and walking together would provide him with the longer time needed for that purpose.

As I expected, as soon as we got out of the car and started walking my companion asked me if I was aware of the enormity and the gravity of the undertaking for which I had endeavoured to obtain the King’s approval.  He continued with answering his own question and added that; if I was not aware, I was attempting to cross a minefield.

I told him that I was quite aware of what he meant and that I understood perfectly the nature and magnitude of the task I was about to undertake.  And I ask Allah’s help in order to succeed to do our country, which was suffering under the hated military regime, a lot of good.  He then said to me that this task would not only require me to defend the monarchy as embodied in the person of the King, but also to defend the entire regime of the monarchy i.e. its personalities and symbols, especially those who were very close to him and considered his clique.

It was clear from his previous hint that he was aiming to entice me to adopt the stance of defending him and his family when defending the King; however, I was clear, frank and decisive in this regard.

I further explained that I did not consider it to be the most suitable of times to raise the banner of monarchy in Libya.  The coup d’etat regime had successfully, worked relentlessly with all the state resources at its disposal to distort the image of such a form of government, and to level all sorts of false accusations against it.  Furthermore, I told him that he had to bear in mind that the prevalent trend among the Libyan intelligentsia and the opposition ranged from the so-called “progressive ideas” in the leftist and liberal tendencies to the growing religious currents.  All of the people of all these persuasions, at least at that time, did not wish to be associated with the Monarchy in Libya.

On the other hand, when I advanced the idea of establishing the Libyan Constitutional Union and thought about the necessity of obtaining the blessing of the King for it, because of his constitutional legitimacy as documented in the codification of a constitution agreed upon by all of the Libyan nation, I did not envisage that I would be in the position of defending personalities that had political and titular offices and positions in the monarchy regime.  It was not my intention to justify or catalogue the mistakes of some of the symbols of the monarchy regime, for this was not my business and these personalities could defend themselves if they wanted to.  My task in this regard would be limited to the King and the Constitution, and may Allah help me in the onerous and difficult crossing of the minefield and I was certain of the difficulty involved in doing so.

My answer above put an end to Mr. Shelhi’s hope of enlisting me to defend him and his family and consequently ignited his enmity towards me.

Our conversation ended at that point, as we reached my temporary accommodation.

I thanked Mr Shelhi for his generosity in facilitating my meeting with the King and he said good-bye to me in a cool manner which he made no effort to disguise.

To be continued…

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

21st July 2006


Top of the Page                                                        Original Arabic 



Many thanks to Mustafa for undertaking the arduous task of translating this document from Arabic.


This part was published on the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , Libya Al-Mostakbal" , "Al-Manara"







بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (3)

(First published in Arabic on 1st July 2006)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union



It is important that readers know that during all of my contacts with the leading personalities of the various Libyan opposition movement, in exile to publicise the establishment of The Libyan Constitutional Union and to acquaint them with it, that at no time did I ever criticise nor attack any of these individuals. Even when some directed their attacks to me personally, and spread doubts and suspicion over the reasons, goals and motives of my clear campaign.

I restrained my self, from getting engaged in exchanges (verbal or written), with those who did not follow the etiquette of constructive criticism and went along a path of hostility and arrogance that drove them to consider me as their enemy which I was not.  I approached them in the spirit of peace and affability for the purpose of unifying the ranks under one umbrella forming an entity that was capable of realising the aim of helping our country and saving it from the corrupt regime.

Even when I was forced to take a stand against those who overstepped the boundary of professional courtesy in their personal attacks against me and my family, I always confined my responses within decency, good manners and to the point.

 As I have repeatedly said, my purpose of writing this article is to record and document important events and stances in our contemporary history, however, at the same time I affirm that I have been very careful to write this article and publish it when most of the people, who participated in these events, are still alive.

This insures accuracy and truth in recording and documenting the information.  It also requires me to give ample opportunity to those concerned to respond to the information presented in this article with respect to their referred stances and allows them to affirm, refute or add to them.

 In return, I hope that those people who desire to reply or comment on this article, be bound by the principles of moral responsibility in their stating of the mere facts without fabrication or distortion.

 I also hope that these people have the moral courage to write under their real names and not to resort to hiding behind pseudonyms making it on the one hand hard to hold them accountable for the falsehoods they propagate and on the other hand this use of pseudonyms impairs the chance for everybody to enrich serious and responsible discussions and dialogues about important events in our country’s recent history.

 * *  *  * *


Announcement of the Establishment of the LCU:

 The publicity campaign for the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union started with a greeting card on the auspicious occasion of the Greater Bairam (Eid Aladha) as it coincided with 7th October (1981), the thirtieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Libyan Constitution.  It contained the statement announcing the establishment of the L C U[1], its motives and aims.  It was widely distributed among the Libyan citizens inside and outside Libya. The number of these letters reached thousands, for we managed to obtain lists of names and addresses of a large number of Libyans residing in Egypt whose numbers then could be counted in thousands.

 We also obtained lists of names and addresses of large numbers of Libyan students in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America [2].

Furthermore, we sent thousands of letters containing the relevant information to the mail boxes in various Libyan Cities addressed to fictitious names.  These would reach the owners of the mail boxes without jeopardising the safety of the mail box owners, who could easily dissociate themselves from these letters, should the oppressive authorities discover them, as those letters were addressed to unknown names unconnected to them.

It came to our knowledge through some people from inside the country that the mailing of these letters had achieved the desired success to a large extent.

 * *  *  * *

This was on the general level, we also endeavoured to contact directly all the active Libyan opposition groups (some of their members were already known to us personally), as well as many Libyan notables to inform them about the newly established Libyan Constitutional Union through letters containing a thorough explanation of the principles and aims upon which the Libyan Constitutional Union was established.


We also made personal contacts through telephone calls, mail and meetings with the personalities that we had known previously, to inform them about the matter under consideration and to explain to them fully the essential nature of the Libyan Constitutional Union and its planned aims.  This was aided by issuing three carefully prepared booklets, which were sent to the relevant parties in three instalments in the period between 7 October 1981 and the end of December 1981. [3]  In tandem with sending these letters and booklets, there was media coverage regarding the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union as soon as it was announced.

  * *  *  * *



 Contrary to our expectations not many among the dozens of individuals whom we had contacted personally to inform them about the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union, bothered to respond or to reply. However, the reactions of those who showed a degree of interest were diverse.

 The replies were divided according to the level of intellect and background of the individual concerned.  Some of these people who replied had a high level of moral sensitivity and a sense of patriotic responsibility, in addition to a degree of intelligence and heedfulness in grasping the concept advanced by the Libyan Constitutional Union and the ability to see its ramification on the future of the national cause.

 At the same time, other reactions had elements of chauvinism and the preference of personal and political interests at the expense of the national cause.

Others still, were motivated and driven by tribalism without any consideration to the interests of the homeland and its essential causes.

 In what follows, I will talk about the various reactions which were typified by some opposition personalities in exile. These personalities were contacted and met by the Libyan Constitutional Union in the period of its establishment and after that.

 This was for the purpose of the unification of all the Libyan opposition under one umbrella with a program containing the assertion of the legal legitimacy which would facilitate the struggle against the ruling military regime through international legal legitimacy and accord the Libyan cause through effective means capable of toppling the corrupt regime.


 * *  *  * *


Omar El-Shelhi

 As I mentioned previously in part 2, my relationship with Mr. Omar El-Shelhi had grown cold and uneasy.  However, our subsequent frequent meetings at the King’s residence during my regular visits to the King which I endeavoured to maintain throughout his life, had a positive effect on this relationship and softened Mr. Shelhi’s unfriendliness towards me.  For, with time and as he followed the LCU’s publications, and knew me more through these visits, he became more convinced of my true intentions, and satisfied himself that I was not an adventurer who would abuse the king’s reputation or an intruder with an ill agenda.  He saw that my coming close to the King was motivated by loyalty and pure love of the King, coupled with a genuine desire to benefit the national interest.

 With time, some sort of familiarity had formed between Omar El-Shelhi and my self, which before long developed to a strong friendship.  We exchanged visits and frequent phone calls.  However, this friendship did not go beyond personal amity, and never involved any sort of political alliance or co-operation.

During this closeness to Mr. El-Shelhi, I discovered two distinctive marks of his character.  The first was that he has a deep and unrivalled sense of patriotism towards the home land.  The second and more vivid was his unlimited loyalty and devotion to King Idris.

The second characteristic, which was clear to every body that had to deal with him in this regard, had turned to an overwhelming possessiveness of the King.  It developed in him a level of blind jealousy that pulled him out of the realm of courtesy when he sensed that anybody was getting too close to the King or rivalling him to the King’s favour.

 For this particular reason, I dealt with him in this area with diplomacy and extreme tact , and made sure that I would not provoke this vulnerability.


As such, there was nothing in the horizon that would muddy this relationship, until my publication in 1989 of the book “The Life and Times of King Idris of Libya” [4] which was written by Mr. Eric de Candole.  That provoked Mr. El-Shelhi’s enormous outrage and from then till this day he unjustifiably took me for a bitter enemy

Details of this episode have no bearing on the subject at hand.  I will, therefore refrain from expanding.

What is important in this context is the fact that all that friendship and good feelings that grew between Mr. Shelhi and myself was abruptly ended by that event, and have turned to hostility that remains till this day.

  * *  *  * *


Mohammad Othman Essaid…

As I mentioned above some of the contacted opposition personalities were characterised by a certain degree of a sense of patriotic responsibility and a level of intelligence combined with heedfulness in grasping the concept advanced by the Libyan Constitutional Union and had the ability to see its ramifications on the future of Libyan cause. Mr Mohammad Othman Essaid was one of these people.


I had had no previous acquaintance with Mr Essaid who was among the first who replied to the Libyan Constitutional Union contacts by a telephone call from Morocco where he is a permanent resident. In this telephone call he expressed his utmost admiration for the idea and the orientation as formulated by the Libyan Constitutional Union in the letter containing the above mentioned three booklets.

He confided in me, in a state of excitement and esteem for the idea of establishing the Libyan Constitutional Union after reading its letter, that he had wished that one of his sons had come up with this enlightening idea.

My friendship and knowledge of Mr Essaid grew stronger in meetings repeated with the passage of time and in which he frequently expressed his support of the orientation of the Libyan Constitutional Union and its hoped for aims. However, due to his position as a political refugee it was difficult for him to participate in any political activity in this regard.


 * *  *  * *


Abdulhameed  El-Bakoosh.

I did not know Mr Abdulhameed El-Bakoosh closely before the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union; however, my relationship with him was deepened to a good degree after exchanging contacts between us which was crowned later on with personal meetings in the two cities of Manchester and Cairo. [5]

Mr Bakoosh was among the first who took care to reply to the contacts concerning the announcement of the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union. And his reply in this regard was not only confined to the telephone and written correspondence but also a personal meeting at my home in the city of Manchester.

Mr Bakoosh made a telephone call to me in July 1982 during the holy month of Ramadan. He informed me in this phone call that he had received my letters dealing with the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union and that he was in London and would travel to Manchester to meet me and talk to me about the subject matter under consideration.


To be continued....

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

4th August 2006



[1] The Eid (greeting) Card which had been sent to the majority of the Libyan personalities, contained in one of its two pages the announcement of the Establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union and in the other a photo of King Idris.  This photo has a story which is related elsewhere in this article. Appendix No.1)

[2] We managed to obtain a copy of lists of addresses of students studying in Britain and America which belonged to the General Union of Libyan students (UK branch).  My brother, Hisham, was one of its founder members.

 [3] These booklets were prepared and sent in three consecutive significant anniversaries of modern Libya.  The first one 7 October 1981 which commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the announcement of the Libyan Constitution and coincided with the occasion of the Greater Bairam (Eid Aladha) of that year, the second on 21 November of the same year coincided with the date of the UN resolution that granted Libya its independence, and the third on 24 December of that year coincided with the thirtieth anniversary of the independence of Libya. The reader can examine these booklets which are published/posted in the Libyan Constitutional Union archive web site whose link is

 [4] : “The Life and Times of King Idris of Libya”, first published by the author Mr. E.A.V. de Candole in a private edition of 250 copies in 1988 as a tribute to his friend King Idris I.  The author was forced to publish it privately in this small number after his attempts to get a publisher for this book have failed.

Having secured permission from the author, I passed it to my friend Mr. Mohamed El-Gazieri who translated it to Arabic.  I then published it in 1989 and distributed it free of charge to friends, researchers and those who have an interest in Libya.  I also provided complimentary copies to numerous public libraries and University libraries in the Arab and Islamic world, as well as Europe and the USA.  The purpose of this action was to honour Libya’s great late King Idris El-Senussi by providing researchers world wide with a credible account of his life compiled by a credible and close contemporary to the late king.  The book contained important details, which we felt should become a source of information for writers and historians.

In May 1990 I republished it both in Arabic and English and distributed it freely on a wider scale in the same manner.  The costs of publication and distribution of the second edition were shared equally with me by two Libyan patriots who asked for their identities not to be revealed for fear of persecution from the Libyan despotic regime.

 [5] The first letter was sent to Mr Abdulhameed El-Bakoosh on 24 February 1982, to inform him about the program and the aims of the Libyan Constitutional Union. ( A photocopy and translation of this letter is attached underneath.)


Appendix No.1)

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.


The Libyan Constitutional Union hereby proclaims its institution in deference to the aspirations of the Libyan people and the exigencies of seeking to restore constitutional legitimacy to the nation and to re-establish the rule of law and order.


The Union reiterates the pledge of allegience to King Muhammad Idris al-Mahdi Sanusi as historical leader of the Libyan people's struggle for independence and national

unity and as a symbol of legality for the nation.


It calls upon all Libyans to rally around their monarch and under his banner to put an end to the illegitimate regime now existing in Libya and to eliminate all the consequences that have accrued from its usurpation of power since September 1st 1969.


The Libyan Constitutional Union emphasizes the right of the Libyan people to restore justice and thereafter to decide such form of body politic and system of government as they may choose of their own free will in a referendum to be conducted under international supervision within a reasonable period from the restoration of constitutional

legality to the nation.


A translation of a letter sent to Mr Abdulhameed El-Bakoosh:


The honourable Mr Abdulhameed El-Bakoosh


It has taken me a long time to obtain your address and that is the reason of not writing to you until now. I hope that you have received the Libyan Constitutional Union Booklets which explain its political idea and what we strive to achieve and stand for.

I and all members of the Libyan Constitutional Union would be pleased if there is a possibility of fruitful cooperation with you to serve the homeland in the shadow of the only symbol of the Libyan sovereignty which was short in duration and unique in the entire history of Libya. Furthermore, you were one of the brilliant pages of this period.

All the members of the Libyan Constitutional Union consider co-operating with you a great honour and an important consolidation of the national cause and they remember with pride and appreciation your idea of the "Libyan Personality" which time has proven how much the people were in need of and they wish for the return to the homeland its happy days so that it can make use of the efforts and ideas of the sincere people like you.

While waiting for your response, estimable sir, please accept the highest respect and appreciation of the entire members of the Libyan Constitutional Union


Mohamed Ben Ghalbon



Top of the Page                                                            Original Arabic 


Many thanks to Mustafa for undertaking the arduous task of translating this document from Arabic.


This part was published on 5th August on the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , Libya Al-Mostakbal" , "Al-Manara"








بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (4)

(First published in Arabic on 15th  July 2006)

[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union


Cont. Abdulhameed El-Bakoosh:

In the previous part of this documentary article, I stopped at Mr. Bakoosh’s phone call from London in which he informed me that having received our correspondence regarding the formation of the LCU, he was coming to Manchester to meet me to discuss the matter. 

Mr. Bakoosh arrived at my house in Manchester the following day, and that was the first time I met him. 

After welcoming the honourable guest first in my house, we moved to the LCU’s headquarters to discuss the matter in hand.  There waiting for us were Mr. Mohamed Al-Gazieri and my brother Hisham.

We talked extensively for a few hours about the LCU, its motives and aims.  Our discussion revealed to me that Mr. Bakoosh had, from the outset, a deep understanding and appreciation of all aspects of this patriotic endeavour, which was consistent with his renowned astuteness, high level of intellect and true patriotism.  As such, there was nothing one could add in this context to some one of Mr.Bakoosh’s calibre.

Therefore, I wasted no time to propose to him that he become the head and leader of the LCU, in order to realise its desired goals, and fulfil the hopes that were now resting on it.  I did that for two reasons:

1.         Mr. Bakoosh possessed tremendous political experience, much needed by anybody on whose shoulders the responsibility of leading the struggle to return Libya to constitutional legitimacy was to fall.  Such a task requires certain political qualifications, polished experience in leadership and strong regional and international connections, as well as sound and unquestionable loyalty to the homeland.  Mr. Bakoosh possessed all of these qualities in abundance.

2.         The founders of the LCU were novices to the political stage and lacked the political credibility, experience and connections which Mr Bakoosh commanded.  One quality they possessed in abundance was their enthusiasm and dedication to the cause of the homeland, which motivated and guided them to establish the LCU.

I went on to assure Mr. Bakoosh that the founders and members of the LCU would happily follow him and serve under his leadership to achieve the desired goal.

Mr. Bakoosh thanked me profusely for my offer, which he saw as a pinnacle of generosity and selflessness.  He then made clear his inability to accept it because of his distinguished status, which made it inappropriate for him to accept a position conceded to him by a group of young people who have no recognised rank.

He went further in his explanation by saying that the situation would have been entirely different had the idea of the LCU been his brain child.  Only then would leading this establishment be a natural and logical consequence.  But having the position conceded to him by a group of unknown young people is something he could not consent to.

In spite of my total disagreement with all of what my honourable guest had to say in this context, I continued the conversation with him to get to the bottom of his reservation.  I assured him that his chairing the LCU would not imply that he was appointed to such a position as much as it would simply mean that he, himself, had volunteered to lead it for the sake of the national cause.

He replied by saying that the fact would still appear to others that it is purely a matter of appointment by the founders of this organisation, something unacceptable to his prominent status.  He then added, that the only way around this would be for me to persuade King Idris to publicly appoint him as chairman of the Libyan Constitutional Union, as he had done previously when he appointed him Prime Minster of the Kingdom of Libya.

I was certain then that this particular request was the reason that motivated Mr. Bakoosh to come and meet me.

Due to my admiration and high regard for Mr. Bakoosh, whom I respect dearly for his well known patriotism, I did not shut the door of discussing the matter further with him.  However I made an effort to clarify to him that his request was neither logical nor fair.  King Idris did not have the authority over the LCU in the manner assumed by Mr. Bakoosh to appoint him as its head.  The King’s authority in this context emanated from the esteem he enjoys in the hearts of the LCU founders, who would not refuse the King’s request if he were to make it.  However, he would never do that for the following reasons:

o        King Idris did not found the Libyan Constitutional Union, and was not concerned with details of its infrastructure.  This matter was left entirely to those who founded it.  The King’s interest in this regard was confined to blessing this campaign to realise the aspiration of restoring constitutional life to Libya.

o        It was the founder of the Libyan Constitutional Union and architect of the idea of restoring the abandoned constitutional Legitimacy to its proper context, through rallying around its symbol and around the country’s constitution, who persuaded the King to give his consent and blessing to it.

o        When the King gave his approval to this campaign, his implicit stipulation was that he would not be directly involved in the political activities of this affair.  He had several reasons for that, among the most important of which are his wish not to be seen as violating the hospitality of the Egyptian authorities, who had stipulated that he would not engage in political activities against the ruling regime in Libya.  A further equally important reason was the King’s advanced age and poor health, which could not withstand such burdensome duties.

o        Taking into account all the above considerations, the king’s involvement in the LCU was symbolic and stemmed from the necessity that his positive response to this mission was considered both a religious and nationalistic duty, imposed by the hardship endured by the Libyan people under the cruel and brutal military dictatorship. The king, who had maintained an ascetic lifestyle and abstained from the luxuries of life and the trappings which power brought with it would have never consented or give his blessing to this endeavour had he not been assured by the architect of the idea of the Libyan Constitutional Union that this would provide another great service to his nation, to whom he gave his entire life.

Therefore there was absolutely no cause to embarrass the King by asking him to appoint Mr. Abdulhameed El-Bakoosh head of the Libyan Constitutional Union.

In spite of all my above explanation to my honourable guest, he was adamant in his refusal of our invitation for him to assume the leadership of the LCU and steer it towards the aspiration of the Libyan nation, and held on firmly to his aforementioned condition.  I still did not give up on this distinguished Libyan personality.  I informed him that the offer still stood and asked him to reconsider his final decision in his own time.

I later learnt that Mr. Bakoosh had no interest in leading the Libyan Constitutional Union towards its designed goals when he sent me publications of the “Libyan people’s Liberation Organisation” in an obvious hint that he was intent on being actively involved in the organisation which he established sometime earlier. [1].

  * *  *  * *

During my first visit to Egypt after this episode, I was greeted at Cairo airport by Mr. Bakoosh with his customary courtesy.  He expected me to open the subject of his declining of my offer, but when I showed no interest in the subject, he instigated a conversation in this regard.  In the context of justifying his refusal, he said that, on the one hand, he had founded the Libyan people’s Liberation Organisation in compliance with the aspiration of the general ideological trend that was prevailing amongst most of the Libyan opposition at the time.  And that he saw it as the proper political platform to confront the ruling regime in Libya.

On the other hand, the idea of the LCU, which was based on rallying around the person of the King, did not conform with the general mood currently rife among opponents of the regime.  For King Idris was not at that time a figure of total acceptance among Libyan nationals, as indeed he was never a universally accepted figure, either before or during the time of independence!

In his zeal to articulate those justifications, my host forgot that, by doing so he had contradicted himself in his previous declaration to me during our meeting in Manchester, when he expressed his admiration and total appreciation of the LCU’s approach and manifesto.

 * *  *  * *


It is perhaps worth drawing the reader’s attention here to the fact, that I was absolutely certain that in the merging of the LCU’s, initiative with Mr. Bakoosh’s numerous abilities and skills lied a great chance to accomplish the task of ridding our country of the despotic military regime.

In other words, joining Mr. Bakoosh’s political astuteness, experienced leadership and wide range of regional and international connections, with the solid ground and popular appeal of the principals of the LCU would have inevitably led to the realisation of the aspirations of the Libyan people.

I firmly believe that squandering that rare opportunity was a tremendous loss to our national case.

To be continued…

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

4th August 2006


[1] “The Libyan people’s Liberation Organisation”, was one of the Libyan opposition groupings which emerged at that time.  We sent Mr. Bakoosh a note of congratulations when he announced its establishment.  The name of this organisation was changed shortly after its establishment to “The Libyan Liberation Organisation”, bearing the slogans “Liberty, Fraternity and Justice”.  The organisation published a magazine named “The Liberation”.  The first Issue was published in April/May 1983.  Towards the end of 1984 wide cracks started to appear in the structure of this organisation following a severe and bitter public clash between its founders Mr. Bakoosh and Mr. Basheer El-Rabti, which eventually led to the splitting of the organisation into two different bodies.  Mr. Bakoosh remained the head of the “Libyan Liberation Organisation” and continued the publishing of “The Liberation” for a short while before both the organisation and the magazine disappeared completely.  While Mr Rabti founded a new body he named “The Libyan National Organisation”.  This organisation published a magazine named “Al-Mirsaad Allibi”.


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 


Many thanks to Mustafa for undertaking the arduous task of translating this document from Arabic.



This part was published on 8th August 2006 the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , "Libya Al-Mostakbal" , "Al-Manara"









 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (5)


(First published in Arabic on 28th July2006)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union


 Before going any further in narrating details of the meetings which took place between the Libyan Constitutional Union and various Libyan notables and heads of Libyan opposition groups, I wish to mention that during our intense campaign of contacting those personalities to announce the establishment of the LCU, we spared no effort to convince them of its essential idea of restoring constitutional legitimacy to Libya.  Furthermore, we had tried all the means at our disposal to urge these people to adopt this idea and unite under its banner.

 We made conscious efforts in this regard, to afford each one of those personalities all the due respect, courtesy and recognition of past and potential prominent future status.  On certain occasions we offered some of these personalities leadership of the LCU.  This was prompted by our keenness to advance the national interest ahead of our own personal or partisan gains.

However, what had been hoped for from these personalities was not realised and the results from dealing with them, were not only disappointing, but shocking for the LCU.  Some declared their enmity towards me, the LCU and its founders (this will be dealt with in greater detail when the subject of these personalities is raised in its proper place in this article).  This feeling of hostility was one-sided.  We did not reciprocate nor did we respond in kind

On the other hand, some of these Libyan personalities chose to ignore the LCU completely, not only in their discussions and press interviews but also in the text of their leaflets and distributed publications.  Among this last group one may mention the following: Mr Mansour Alkikhia (may Allah bestow His mercies on him dead or alive), Dr Muhammad Almegrief[1], Mr Abdulhamid El-bakoosh and Mr Mustafa Bin-Halim[2].


 * *  *  * *



Muhammad El-Saifaat

As mentioned in the first part of this series, I came across Haj El-Saifaat when I had contacted him (in August 1981) to ask him if he would inform the intermediary between King Idris and myself about my stay at my father’s house in Alexandria and my telephone number there[3]

Mr. El-Saifaat did not like, at all, the fact that I had bypassed him and contacted the late King through a person other than himself without consulting him or seeking his permission.  El-Saifaat saw himself, as we said earlier, as the warden of the King’s private and public affairs. He thought that any contact with the King concerning any matter, big or small, should only be through him, with his personal agreement and consent.

And from then on, this veteran Libyan personality, who enjoyed widespread popularity among many Libyans, declared his enmity towards me unnecessarily and without any justification.  He was responsible for an intense campaign of vilification and slander against me personally and my political orientation as embodied in the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union, and rarely missed a chance when he met a group of Libyans, on any occasion, to attack me and the idea of the LCU.

He was able to spread his campaign due to his numerous contacts with Libyan personalities and families that immigrated to Egypt at that time. He enjoyed these contacts due to the special status that he had during the monarchist era, which endeared him to many Libyan opponents of the military regime which had toppled it.

The affection that many Libyans had for Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat not only made them listen to him, but made him their centre of attention and their main source of information.  In connection with this matter, a contemporary of that era once disclosed to me that he considered El-Saifaat a mobile news agency, who could through his exceptional conversational skills convince his audience of whatever he wanted to spread among them.

With this background which was characterised and dominated by his limiting vision of the national interest, Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat took me for an enemy.  He thought that I had made an unforgivable mistake when I did not consult with him concerning my contact with King Idris, and that I had not followed the protocol, that he himself had set.

Moreover, El-Saifaat, who was born, raised and later worked in an environment dominated by a tribal mentality, which dictates that there should be no political change outside its area of influence. 

An important factor which should not be overlooked, and which is at the crux of the Libyan make-up is the tribalistic nature of the country.  During the monarchy era certain tribes earned privileged positions through their distinguished role in the armed struggle which - coupled with the political campaigning that followed at a later stage - led to the independence of the country and its liberation from the hated Italian colonialism.  El-Saifaat’s tribe enjoyed a prominent role in assuming positions of power which influenced events throughout the monarchy

Through this mindset, El-Saifaat saw in the emergence and coming to prominence, of the LCU a political movement seeking to unite the popular base around the Constitution and under the constitutionally legitimate leader.  Under these circumstances he saw the establishment of the LCU as a violation of the rule upon which the power structure of the monarchy regime was based.

This particular concept of haj Mohammad El-Saifaat was shared by many monarchy era personalities of tribal ancestry, whose tribes participated in the struggle for independence. Furthermore, this concept was the reason behind the dislike, which some Libyan personalities had for the establishment in spite of their love, affection and strong loyalty they felt for the King.

In other words, the imposition of certain personalities to assume positions of responsibility in the new born state, as recognition of the role their tribes had played in the struggle during the Italian occupation, gave rise to the feeling of antipathy among some segments of the Libyan people including the intelligentsia and those who belonged to the urban areas. This happened after some of the tribal personalities emphasised their tribal loyalty at the expense of their loyalty to the state through advancing their tribes’ interests in preference to the general interest of the country in certain affairs.

The dissatisfaction of these groups arose because of the favouritism, which the tribal elements were trying to impose within the Monarchy regime. This dissatisfaction developed into a political hatred between the two groups.  This hatred was intensified by the unconstitutional actions of certain tribal elements which led, with the passing of time, to distort and undermine this refined political system which unified the nation under a civilized and honourable banner, immediately after its independence.

On the other hand, this impassioned hatred ignited the flames of discord inside the governing authority as embodied in some actions which exceeded the proper bounds. These actions resulted from the tribal intolerance and zealotry which found its clearest expression in the uncompromising tribal stance leading to unacceptable political positions. The most prominent of these positions took shape in the 1964 events which expressed very clearly the intensity of difference in thinking between the city dwellers and some of the rural populace who played an active role in the exercise of power in that era.

With this in mind I will now return to the main subject of Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat’s hostile stance towards me following his discovery of my direct contact with the King without involving him in the matter. And more importantly, his stand towards the proposition that I outlined to the King in relation to the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union whose core idea is concerned with the return of the constitutional legitimacy to the country.

Haj El-Saifaat was dominated in this matter by his tribal bigotry.  He perceived this as an attempt to engulf the King in a national struggle aimed at changing the government through an idea carrying within it the seeds of success if the various currents of the Libyan opposition would rally around it.

Therefore, according to his line of reasoning, the success of the LCU through elements belonging to the urban dwellers would lead to the exclusion of the tribalistic elements, and so according to his assumption, power would pass on to those who would be responsible for change, as had been the case with some of the personalities of the tribal entity following the country’s independence.

In this way, Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat continued waging his attacks on my person and The Libyan Constitutional Union in all the Libyan milieus that he used to frequent at that time.  His popularity among the Libyan residents in Egypt helped him in his campaign, for almost never a day passed without him being invited as a guest of honour by one of the Libyan families in Egypt, and he took the opportunity to slander me and the Libyan Constitutional Union to his hosts and audience.  To the extent that whenever he met my late father in a social gathering of Libyans, resident in Egypt, he would start venting his vehement criticism of my political orientations to him, and condemn my efforts to achieve the desired general consensus on the goals of the Libyan Constitutional Union.  He actually went as far as blaming my father for not forcing me to desist this “incitement”.

In one such occasion, my father had enough of hearing Haj El-Saifaat’s repeated and exaggerated criticism, which were untruthful and distorted.  He said to him, “Please, Haj Muhammad, don’t talk to me about this matter again. If you have any reservations or criticism against my son’s political views go and speak to him by yourself! My son is responsible for his actions. This is a matter of his personal freedom and he is responsible for the political views that he thinks suitable for the realisation of the national interest.”

El-Saifaat said to my father “but what your son is doing is in vain and will not achieve anything for him. The Americans[4] are on our side. Who is supporting your son?”

My father replied “Allah and King Idris El-Senusi, are on the side of my son.  And if you think that he will not achieve anything and that his efforts are in vain then let him alone and no harm or wrong will befall anybody. Further, he will not harm you, especially, when you are sure that you will achieve your desired aim by being allied with the Americans.”

 El-Saifaat responded with indignation, “He is dispersing the efforts and hindering our work”

My letter to Haj Mohamad El-Saifaat, which was dated 17th January 1982 and contained an insistent call for his cooperation and support for the declared aims of the LCU[5] did not change his stance toward me and the LCU


To be continued…


Muhammad Ben Ghalbon

30 September 2006


[1] Many years after leaving the "National Front for the Salvation of Libya”, Dr Mohammad Almegrief referred to The LCU in his Book, “Libya Between The Past And The Present….Pages From The Political History”. This mention of the Libyan Constitutional Union is necessary in the context of the nature of his subject, which in part deals with documenting the history of the struggle of organisations and groups of the opposition against the regime in Libya.

[2] In a press interview conducted by Mohammad Makhlouf with Mustafa Bin Halim, which was published in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper (issue number 5239, 2 April 1993) Mr. Bin Halim was asked about his opinion concerning the Libyan Opposition abroad at that time. In his answer Mr. Bin Halim mentioned the known opposition groups and deliberately ignored the Libyan Constitutional Union.  Makhlouf followed that answer with the Question, “And what about the LCU?” Bin Halim answered, pretending his total ignorance of the LCU and lack of his personal knowledge of me, by saying, “Who are they? I do not know them, therefore I do not comment on them.”

What is so extraordinary and confounding in this matter is that Bin Halim, as we shall see later when we discuss his stance, was among the first personalities that had been contacted to be informed about the establishment of the LCU and was urged to support its idea. Furthermore, what makes Bin Halim’s stance confounding and eccentric, as is expressed in his misleading answer, is the fact that he is a relation of mine. He is in fact my cousin (my father’s sister’s son). This is really extraordinary and unusual and one can find for it neither an answer nor an explanation. 

[3] Part 2 of this series:

[4] What is meant here is the American support for the “National Front for the Salvation of Libya” which Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat was one of its prominent founders.

[5] A letter had been sent to Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat, as a part of the above mentioned campaign to contact prominent national figures. His reply was negative.  (Below are copies of all the correspondence we exchanged with him)



Many thanks to Mustafa for undertaking the arduous task of translating this document from Arabic

Also, a big thank you to Obaid for editing it



Appendix 1:

A translation of the LCU’s letter to

Haj Muhammad El-Saifaat dated 17th January 1982


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful


The honourable Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat,



I wanted to contact you earlier, but was waiting for the Libyan Constitutional Union to complete introducing its idea through its three booklets, which I hope you are now familiar with.

We would be happy if there is a possibility of working together to serve the Libyan cause, and raise the banner of resistance aloft under the command of His Majesty King Muhammad Idris El-Senussi (May Allah give him a long life).

While waiting for your reply, please accept the respects of all members of the Libyan Constitutional Union, who would be honoured to work with you, and who all hold your person in high esteem.


Compliments, until we meet

Yours sincerely

Muhammad Abdu Ben Ghalbon


** * **

Appendix 2:

 A translation of Haj Muhammad El-Saifaat’s reply dated 2nd February 1982

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful


The honourable brother Muhammad Abdu Ben Ghalbon,


Cairo : 02/02/82

I gratefully received your letter dated 17th January 1982.  I dearly wished that you opened this subject with me when you contacted me to request the phone number of our brother Haj (.....)[1], or when you came to Cairo. 

Honourable brother, God knows that I never loved anybody in my entire life as much as I loved King Idris, may Allah help us all to repay him for at least some of his services to our beloved Libya, which he offered the country without asking anything in return.  Also, I never bowed to any flag more than the real Libyan flag with its three colours, which I consider myself among those who selected and approved it, as I was honoured to be a member of the original Libyan body which formed Libya’s Constitution.

Honourable brother Muhammad; it would have been more courteous had you contacted the Libyan brothers prior to announcing your esteemed establishment.  On my part, if I may comment, I would say that your contact came too late, not just for me, but for many others.  The truth is, I have never in my whole life heard of contacts regarding such a vital issue, that concerns the future of the homeland and the nation, being made by correspondence.

Honourable brother Muhammad; some of the obstacles that prevent me from joining your esteemed establishment are those I mentioned above.  More importantly, however, the part that is beyond doubt or trickery is that I am committed to some Libyan brothers whose concern for Libya, I would not say is superior to yours, but I would say is not inferior.  The record of sacrifice for Libya and its monarch is the best witness.

 May god help you

Respectfully; Your brother

Mohammad El-Saifaat


 [1] Omitted from document to protect identity of the person


 Appendix 3:

A translation of LCU Letter to Haj Muhammad El-Saifaat dated 4th March 1982


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful


 The honourable Haj Mohammad El-saifaat



 I have today received your letter (dated 2/2/82) and I would like to comment on its content.

When I contacted you in Cairo and asked you to get in touch with (.....) to tell them that I was in Alexandria and I would like them to get in touch with me as I had a message from (…), I did not discuss any subject with you.  Furthermore, I did not have the honour of meeting you when I was in Cairo, simply because we did not know each other, nor had we met at any occasion beforehand.  Therefore it was not easy to talk about the subject.  However, all of the LCU members thought that your response was unquestionably guaranteed to be positive, as a result of what everybody knows about your past loyalty to the King and your being a former member of the National Constituent Assembly which wrote the country’s constitution. This Constitution is what The Libyan Constitutional Union is calling for.

The belief was that this call would make you particularly proud of the fact that some young people from Libya are grateful to their forefathers and are not denying their glorious deeds.  This was especially so as the National Constituent Assembly was the target of ingratitude and slander, firstly from the coup d’etat government, and then from all the opposition groups with the exception of the LCU.

Please permit me to direct your attention to the fact that before announcing the establishment of the LCU we had contacted many Libyans known for their vocal opinion, patriotism and courage and who dedicated themselves to the service of the homeland without adulation or claims of leadership.  Lack of personal knowledge of many others and the inability to obtain their addresses prevented us from contacting them.

Furthermore, the LCU booklets and publications are considered an invitation for all to participate, work and sacrifice - not necessarily within the framework of the LCU, for those who do not want to co-operate with it - but under the banner of His Majesty King Mohammad Idris El-Mahdy El-Sennusi, raising the only flag that Libya ever had during its short history and coordinating the relations among themselves according to the Libyan Constitution.  Most of the people, who participated in the writing of the Constitution, were united in following these ideals. These are the same men who chose the colours of that beautiful flag.

You referred in your letter to your wish for the help of Allah (SWT) to enable you to repay the debt to the King and return his favour, which he bestowed on all the Libyan people with neither boasting nor asking them for anything in return, and which made all the Libyans indebted to him. 

I am relying on your magnanimity to allow me to ask you when this debt will be repaid if not now by advising and convincing the Libyan brothers, who you stated in your letter are conscientious about the interests of the homeland, to make themselves and services – with yourself at the forefront - at the immediate disposal of his majesty the King.  For the King, is the master of all Libya, Urban, Bedouin, West and South.  In this way we combat the opportunists who saw in the ease with which Gaddafi tightened his grip on Libya an invitation for them to be its next rulers.

Furthermore, this is also the way to prevent the sad state of lawlessness prevailing in Libya from ever happening again.

It is also to be noted that according to International Law and legal customs, anybody who attempts, or claims to be attempting, to rescue Libya from its current woes by establishing an organisation that calls for justice, right and democracy while ignoring and bypassing the King, whose rights and entitlement were granted by the whole country, as you can personally attest to - or one who dispenses with the Constitution which was written by men, including you yourself, who were legally chosen by the Libyan people as their representatives - is not that much different to the one who staged the coup d’etat.  The only difference is they lack the army, as of yet, to impose their will.

May you always be well,

Your brother

Muhammad Abdu Ben Ghalbon


(......)  Omitted from document to protect identity of the person.



This part was published on 30th September 2006 the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                          Original Arabic 









بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (6)

(First published in Arabic on 11th September 2006)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union


Mustafa Bin-Halim


As soon as I returned to Manchester from my initial meeting with King Idris, I decided to visit my cousin, the former Libyan Prime Minister Mr. Mustafa Bin-Halim in his home in London.  For many years I had maintained a habit of paying him social visits since his exile on every opportunity that I was in London either on business or on holiday.  This custom never stopped even when I was still living in Libya where the oppressive Libyan regime made it known that contacts with exiled political figures of the monarchist regime would be met with severe punishment.

The main reason for this particular visit was to inform him of my plans to form the Libyan Constitutional Union. This would make him one of the first Libyan dignitaries to learn of this matter.

After having lunch with Mr. Bin-Halim and his family, I asked to talk to him privately about a particular subject.

He led me to his private study where I disclosed to him my intention to establish the Libyan Constitutional Union with the aim of restoring Constitutional legitimacy to Libya under the banner of its rightful symbol and  legal representative King Idris I.

We had a very long and extensive conversation, which I will convey here to the readers in all its meanings and conclusions, rather than literally word by word as it took place some quarter of a century ago.

I began by elaborating in my explanation to Mr. Bin-Halim the idea of the LCU in all its political, legal and spiritual aspects without referring to my actual encounters with King Idris and my success in obtaining his consent. 

My reason for this was that I had not yet reported the full details of the outcome of my meeting with the King to my colleagues at the Libyan Constitutional Union.

This was in accordance with the organisational obligation towards my colleagues and out of moral duty and professional courtesy towards them.  I therefore decided not to divulge the news of that important event to anybody before informing my colleagues in order that a collective decision in that regard be made.


** * **


Mr Bin-Halim fully comprehended all aspects of the idea upon which the LCU was based.  He expressed his utter admiration of it and said to me; “Listen grand pa [1] this idea doesn’t just offer the Libyan people the chance to break free from Gaddafi’s regime alone; but it is also the lifeline that will pull them out of the quagmire caused by their deprivation of the blessings of this holy man[2].

He went further to say, “If there was ever a real chance of success to solve the Libyan problem, bring an end to the ruling military regime and restore the constitutional legitimacy to the homeland, it would be through this brilliant idea, which the LCU is founded on.  But the great predicament lies in implementing it and converting it into a reality on the ground, which was an absolutely impossible task”.

I interrupted him to ask what made him deem the LCU’s idea impractical and impossible to realise.

He continued to say that if this idea had any grain of hope of success he would, himself, have carried it out a long time a go, and not waited until I grew in age to come and present it to him as I was doing now[3]

He paused for a second and then went on to say that “the obvious reason which makes this idea impossible to realise lies in its most important factor.  Namely the consent of King Idris, who, as you are probably aware, is reluctant to practice politics in any form or shape.  And that he himself knows this fact more than anybody else for he had first hand experience of it”.

He went on to tell me, “ Even if, for the sake of argument, we assumed that you went ahead with your plan without the king’s approval on the basis that you are undertaking a vital patriotic duty to rescue an entire nation, and therefore you don’t need the king’s approval.  The king would, at that particular point, pull the rug from under you by declaring to the whole world that he did not give you a mandate to deal in this matter in his name.  He might even go further than that by declaring to the whole world that he is bitter about the Libyans who betrayed him after he spent his entire life serving them, and consequently he wouldn’t want to give them a helping hand.

I quickly interrupted him by asking, “What if we managed to surmount this obstacle by securing the King’s approval?  What would your personal position be then? And what could you offer –in this context- to the national struggle?

He replied by saying, “This was a fantastic hypothesis which had no solid ground.  So keep us from unrealistic suppositions, as I am talking to you out of first hand experience.  I have previously talked to the king, on more than one occasion in this regard and he refused it categorically.  All my attempts have ended in total failure”.


** * **


At that time I did not have any reason not to believe what Mr. Bin-Halim was saying, yet the facts on the ground forced me not to accept what he had just told me in his long and articulate speech about the King’s emphatic refusal to the numerous approaches made by him in this regard. 

I found myself in a real dilemma, for on the one hand I have just secured the King’s consent without having any previous contact or connection of any sort with him. Nor was I ever his prime minister or an official in his regime.  While on the other hand, I was listening to this veteran politician who had served the King for many years and as a result developed a strong link to him, telling me that all his similar attempts with the King ended in failure!

During the course of the conversation I began to notice then that Mr. Bin-Halim, for a reason unknown to me, was using all his renowned persuasive skills to put me off the idea of establishing the Libyan Constitutional Union.  I thought that he was possibly doing so out of concern for my personal safety in the face of the prospective gravity and dangers associated with such a task. 

I recall him telling me, in his demoralising speech “Even if we hypothetically assumed that you managed, somehow, to obtain the King’s approval, you would stumble on another obstacle which you have no answer for or power to overcome. You would be faced with the negativity and lack of support of the Libyan people, for “your folk are womenfolk” [4]


** * **


In-spite of all this, I did not give up on trying to extract his viewpoint, and appraise his stand with regard to the establishment of the LCU in case we announced it in the near future.

I, calmly and patiently, asked him to indulge me by hypothetically assuming that we managed the impossible, and obtained the consent of the King and his support for the establishment of the LCU.  What would be his personal position towards it?  Would he support it as the body that advocates the national ideals that he reveres and sees as the way to salvation? Or would other personal considerations in his life dissuade him from such a stand?

At this point Mr. Bin-Halim was cornered into giving an answer to my persistent query. He told me, “Listen grandpa; I shall venture with you in this journey into this impossible hypothesis and assume that you managed the unmanageable.  If you actually obtain the King’s consent you would then have in your hands the key to resolving the Libyan case and you would have succeeded in accomplishing something I personally tried and failed to accomplish.  As for my stance towards this patriotic endeavour and how much support I could give to it, I am now, as you are aware, a Saudi national.  I have, due to my exceptional circumstances, forsaken practicing politics all together.  I also have personal interests which I would not want to jeopardise.  However, I will be ready to provide you with advice and all the assistance within my capability.  For, firstly you are my cousin, and secondly I am still a Libyan and the interest of my homeland is of the utmost concern to me.  I do, however, have one condition”.

I asked what this condition was.

He replied by saying, “This matter remains a secret between you and me only, without involving anybody else.  Meaning that the two of us sit together like we are doing now, I provide you with the needed advice and arrange for the required assistance”.

I accepted his generous offer and thanked him profusely for it and said to him that I have one more request which I think lies within his capacity.  He asked what it was.  I told him, “When I come to establish the LCU, I would be in great need of his wide range of contacts with the leading and influential political figures in the Arab world.  He warmly said to me “I would not spare any effort in this context”.  I left the residence of Mustafa Bin-Halim fully content and happy with his promises.


** * **


Shortly after that meeting, my colleagues at the LCU and myself set a date to publicly announce the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union.  We chose the 7th October 1981, which marked the 30th anniversary of the declaration of the Libyan Constitution, and which coincided that year with the Muslim event of “Eid Al-Adha”.  We printed the proclamation of the LCU on a greeting card for that auspicious occasion, and included with it a rare photo of King Idris, which until recently sat on a table at the entrance of the King’s residence, and which he bestowed on me to use in the proclamation of the LCU.

I sent one of these cards to Mr. Bin-Halim, as we did with other Libyan notables in exile[5], and on the morning of the day of Eid Al-Adha I rang him, as was my custom, to pay my respects and wish him Eid Mubarak.  He interrupted my greetings with extreme frostiness, which stopped me from continuing my compliments.  He told me in an angry tone, “I received your piece of paper” referring scornfully to the greeting card I had sent him.  I could hardly believe my ears, for this was far from the response I had anticipated or the etiquette expected from this veteran and articulate speaker.  I wrongly guessed that he might be angry with me because I announced the LCU before telling him in advance.  Something I could explain and hopefully justify to him.  However, I could not for one moment imagine that the matter would go far beyond all that, and that that frostiness and anger would be the start of an animosity which would extend to the next 25 years.

My astonishment was compounded when his words started to hysterically flow in total contrast to the image I had of him in all those years.  His hard words felt like a heavyweight boxer’s blows and were a cause of grave stress and disappointment to me which took me a very long time to recover from. To this day I can not find a logical explanation to what made him feel that way[6].

He continued, “I want you never to call me again after this time! Never to send me any cards or letters, in this context or any other matter.  I want you to also forget that we are relatives, and tear out the pages that contain my contact details from your diary. . From this moment on, I do not want to see you or know you!!”

I replied “Eid Mubarak Mustafa Bey” and put the phone down.

My direct contact with him ended that day.  I thought then that each of us would go his own way, but that our blood relation would preserve a degree of respect for one another.  I was completely wrong.  For Mr. Bin-Halim chose a course which was totally unbecoming of his character, age or rank.  With no apparent reasons or justification he took me for a bitter enemy and unleashed a vicious campaign to tarnish my image on three fronts, relatives, friends and on the general level.  He made the task of my character assassination a priority to which he unscrupulously employed all measures. 


** * **


He began by spreading rumours among members of the Libyan Opposition, with some of whom I had friendships and mutual respect, that I had fabricated the King’s consent, that I was mentally disturbed and that I was a disobedient son who defied the family’s elders, who did not approve of the idea of the Libyan Constitutional Union.

He then turned his attention towards my late father, who held him in high esteem and had faith in his political astuteness and judgement.  He thought of him as a veteran politician who held political office over long periods during the monarchist era of Libya, and who was skilled in the tricks and mischief of the world of politics.

He employed his brother Mr. Abdulhameed Bin-Halim, a lawyer, whose esteem with my father was not inferior to that of his brother, and who was a very sweet and smooth talker with an ability to captivate his audience.

The two alternated in attempts to convince my father to put me off continuing with the path I had chosen in my quest to liberate our country.  They took turns in spreading fear and anxiety in my father’s mind, and tried to convince him that what I was doing would bring grave consequences not only on myself but on all the Ben-Ghalbon family.  They used the regime’s notorious record of brutality and bloodshed against its opponents to convince my father that his entire family would suffer as a result of my reckless action.

It is also worth mentioning in this context that Mr. Abdelhameed Bin-Halim, was one of the founders of the Libyan Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) and among its prominent figures in Egypt, he did not stop at scaring my father with tales about the wrath of the military regime, but he went further to advise his uncle that the future of Libya is definitely with the National Front, which was not looking with satisfaction at what his son is doing, something which would inevitably jeopardise my father’s long term plans when he returns to Libya.  Thankfully, my father’s solid faith in my judgement spoilt their scheme.

I must admit, however, that Mr. Bin-Halim’s wider campaign generally caused much harm and hampered my efforts.  Some relatives and friends took a negative stance towards me as a result of the doubts he spread amongst them.  On top of that, Mr. Bin-Halim’s negative reports of me when consulted by various Arab governments had a major influence on their decision not to stretch a helping hand to the LCU.


** * **


Away from falling into forming opinions coloured by sentiments or personal stances.  If we calmly analyse what happened we would come to the logical conclusion that the Libyan Constitutional Union had yet again lost the contribution of a prominent and capable figure, who might have made a significant difference in our country’s struggle to rid itself from the brutal and backward military regime, and realised the Libyan people’s dream of regaining its dignity and freedom.  The loss of the vital services of former P.M. Bin-Halim, who unjustifiably took a hostile stand from this patriotic endeavour, was no less significant than the loss of the contribution of P.M. Bakoosh. 


To be continued

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

5th October 2006


[1] Mr. Bin-Halim often called me jokingly “Grandpa” due to my almost identical resemblance in appearance to our grand father, whom I also share his name.

[2] Meaning King Idris, for Mr. Bin-Halim was, like many Libyans, a believer in the blessings of descendants of the noble line of prophet Mohamed (SAW).

[3] I was of the age of possibly his youngest son.  By saying that Mr. Bin-Halim was hinting that in spite of the quality and merit of the idea I am presenting to him, it is not in fact new to him and that he wouldn’t have waited until I grew up and discussed it with him, as he had thought of it a long time ago.

[4] Mr. Bin-Halim used an old Libyan term for women.  What he meant was obvious; the Libyan people were not up to the task.

[5] Part 3 of this series.

[6] A few years on, the “Washington Post” published an article on 12 Jun 1985 by the veteran columnist Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta, who are widely known to have sources in the US government.  The article referred to Mr. Bin-Halim’s role in the Libyan opposition.  I have translated here the paragraph that deals with this particular detail and enclose below a copy of the full article.

“The Saudis have provided at least $7 Million to the NFSL.  They use Mustafa Bin Halim, a former prime minister of Libya who is now an adviser to the Saudi government, as go-between with Magarieff”.



This part was published on 6th October 2006 the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 









بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (7)

(First published in Arabic on 29th August 2006)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union


Ramadan Salim El-Kikhia

 Haj Ramadan El-Kikhia (God bless his soul) was considered among the most prominent of Libyan nationalist figures in the city of Benghazi.  He was renowned in his generation for his true patriotism and concern for the good of his country.  He never refrained nor was unwilling to give his utmost for the cause of the homeland and securing its desired nationalistic goals.

He was also one of those nationalist activists who established the Omar Mokhtar Association, which was famed for its sincere aspirations for the Libyan nation.  The Association achieved significant gains in the field of spreading political awareness and cultivating a general patriotic sense amongst the ordinary Libyan citizens within the domain of its purposeful social and political activities.

Although Haj Ramadan had, in the years that followed the country’s independence, some reservations about the flaws in some aspects of the ruling system of the new born state which stemmed from the tribalistic domination and bigotry that blemished some corners of government then.  He was at the same time an ardent believer in the necessity of holding on to the constitutional legitimacy which extracts its sanctity from the constitution that was written by representatives of the Libyan people in the years that led to the country’s independence.

As such, Haj Ramadan’s admiration of the idea that formed the core of the Libyan Constitutional Union, and his total support of its aims came as absolutely no surprise.  It was only natural that this nationalistic seasoned veteran fully comprehended and fathomed the depth of the goals of this idea in all its aspects.

Haj Ramadan El-Kikhia immediately recognised the genuine goal that formed the basis of this idea as being the return to the Constitutional legitimacy, making it the backbone upon which the ruling system of Libya should rest.  He did not confuse it for being a call for the return of monarchist rule as a target in itself, as did many others, who due to a deficient and myopic vision limited the call of the LCU to merely a call for the restoration of the monarchy.

El-Kikhia was not the only person to deduce the true aim of the proposed idea of the LCU.  A few others shared his clear understanding; among them were veterans such Abdulhameed El-Bakoosh, Mustafa Bin-Halim, Mansur El-Kikhia and Mohammad Benyounis.  They all fully grasped that the objective of the idea of the LCU was to work towards restoring the constitutional legitimacy which was chosen by the entire Libyan nation prior to the declaration of independence.  The Libyan people then chose the monarchist system as a form of government, which was a prevalent form of modern government in those days.  They then elected Mohammad Idris El-Senussi as King, in a parliamentarian framework that draws its legitimacy from articles of the constitution which were written by representatives of the Libyan people in the period that preceded the declaration of the country’s independence.  As such, King Idris became the legitimate representative of the constitutional authority that reigned in the state.

This could not be abrogated by the military coup d'état which came to power through illegitimate means.  Nor could those bandits annul the authority of its bearer; King Idris.  For although the army rebels have, in effect secured power through the force of arms, and consequently managed to rule the country with an iron fist, they remain in the eyes of international law an illegitimate government.

Equally, it was the right of the Libyan people –at that time- to combat this illegitimate regime and work towards restoring the lost constitutional legitimacy by re-instating its surviving bearer, King Idris, to resume his role as ruler of the country.  That would be in accordance with the will and choice of the Libyan people, who bestowed this legal status, emanating from the national constitution, upon His Majesty from the outset.

Consequently the task of restoring this constitutional legitimacy to the country became the duty and responsibility of the segment of Libyan society which enjoyed a level of political awareness.  At the pinnacle of this segment were individuals who had a proven record of tirelessly and sincerely serving their country and who are usually referred to as the “wise and influential”[i] of society.  It is widely known that people in general, although more commonly in third world societies, tend to look towards these sincere, patriotic, educated and experienced elite for help in leading the struggle towards achieving their aspirations.

   ** * **


As such, the task of restoring constitutional legitimacy to Libya had to be led by these peers of the Libyan society who would take it upon themselves to combat the despotic and illegal regime that is ruling Libya.  This could be achieved through various means including the legal channels where pressure could be exerted in international legal congregations to show that the incumbent regime in Libya is illegitimate and non-representative of the aspirations of the people.  And thus demand that the international community take the side of the Libyan masses and help them restore their plundered constitutional legitimacy.  The case is particularly solid given the fact that this constitutional legitimacy was born through a United Nations’ resolution.

In addition to this fundamental channel, other effective means to make the Libyan masses more aware of their legitimate and fundamental right to live in the protection of their constitution should simultaneously be pursued.  Raising the awareness that this constitution was the cornerstone upon which the first Libyan state, throughout history, was built, and subsequently urging them to fight the rule of the junta which usurped power through illegal means.

Furthermore, a considerable number of Libya’s “wise and influential” should renew allegiance to King Idris – while he was still alive – as the symbol of this legitimacy.  This would be in full compliance with the power and authority of the constitutional legitimacy which granted him the post of ruler of the country when it was established in the era immediately prior to independence.

In the case of the impossibility of the king’s return to resume his role, it would return to the Libyan people to choose the system of government they see fit and suitable for them.  And also to elect the person whom they see fit to rule the country.

That is to say, the presence of the king on the forefront of this endeavour would bolster the call for the restoration of constitutional legitimacy before the International community, for he is its living symbol.  However, on the other hand, the absence of the king would not mean in any way the diminishing of this legitimacy which originates and extracts its power and vitality from the people through the constitution. 

Unfortunately some failed to see this distinction when the idea of the Libyan Constitutional Union was introduced to them linking it instead to the restoration of the monarchy, or even with the return of the King himself.  They failed to recognise the fact that the constitutional legitimacy which was established by the entire Libyan people on the eve of independence is in fact a vital cornerstone in the build up of the Libyan state.  And therefore, it is not tied to a person or a particular ruler, nor linked to one form of government in particular.  No one person has the power to revoke it, because it is a collective contract delivered by the entire Libyan nation, which fashioned its basis and articles within a constitution that was written to serve as the guardian of the rights of its citizens and regulator of its prospective rulers.

Therefore, in the case of the presence of the King, he would be afforded a new pledge of allegiance to resume his role through the constitutional legitimacy which he represents by a mandate from the Libyan people.  However, in case of the King’s reluctance, or absence, the constitutional legitimacy would force itself through a referendum to be conducted in a democratic way in which the people at large would determine the form of government they so desire (monarchy, republic etc....), as well as the person or persons who should be entrusted with leadership according the constitution, which would be amended and updated to accommodate the new choices of the people.

Haj Ramadan El-Kikhia, as I mentioned above, was not the only “Wise and Influential” Libyan personality to accurately recognise and comprehend this concept of the LCU as elaborated upon above.  Few other peers of the Libyan society shared this understanding.

I maintained a habit of calling on Haj Ramadan El-Kikhia in Alexandria whenever I travelled there to visit my father, the two had a very close long standing friendship.  We would talk about the Libyan Constitutional Union and its activities.  He very generously passed on his observations and remarks which were rich in experience.  He was (may Allah bless his soul and make heaven his final abode) among the very few who awarded me moral support in a time when many others didn’t find it in themselves to be so generous.

** * **  


Sheikh Mansur El-Mahjoob

From the outset, the founders of Libyan Constitutional Union made a conscious effort to approach the Libyan personalities who enjoyed a special status in the Libyan society and who were collectively accepted as belonging to “the wise and influential”, as they were considered to possess the vision to determine the right path that could be followed by the people to achieve their aspirations.

With this in mind, we contacted former Prime Minsiters; Mr Mohammad Othman Essaid, Mr. Abulhameed El-Bakoosh, Mr. Mustafa Bin-Halim, as well as prominent figures such as Haj Muhammad El-Saifaat, Mr. Mansur Rashid El-Kikhia, Haj. Rajab Bin-Katu, Haj. Ramadan Salim El-Kikhia, Mr. Mohammad Benyounis and Sheikh Mansur El-Mahjoob.  They were followed by other notables whom we shall cover in detail in later parts of this series. 

Sheikh Mansur El-Mahjoob, who occupied several prestigious positions during the monarchy in Libya[ii], was at the time a political refugee in Saudi Arabia.  He lived in Makka in the vicinity of the holy shrine. 

I dispatched the LCU’s booklets which announced the establishment of the LCU and elaborated its motives, aims and aspirations by post to his address in Saudi Arabia.  I shortly followed those with a personal letter to appraise his impressions of the LCU’s idea.  I received a reply from Sheikh Mansur informing me that he did not receive any publications from the LCU[iii].  I passed on to him a new set of copies through a trusted courier who handed them to him personally.  He told my envoy that he thought this was a commendable idea and “May Allah bless those who are responsible for it.”

He went on to tell my messenger that after receiving my initial letter and his reply to it, he learnt more about the Libyan Constitutional Union from some people who were aware of its formation.  He said that he fully appreciated the crux of its idea, and that he admired it, and immediately thought that it was the brainchild of Mustafa Bin-Halim, or at least that Bin-Halim was the motivating force behind its coming into the open[iv].  El-Mahjoob linked my relationship to Mustafa Bin-Halim to the establishment of the LCU, and thought that Bin-Halim must have used me as a front for the strife to restore the constitutional legitimacy to Libya!

On the one hand, El-Mahjoob reasoned, Bin-Halim would admire such an idea, and on the other hand, the fact that he was my relative would have obliged him to lend his support.

Furthermore, Sheikh Mansur El-Mahjoob went on to tell my messenger that, according to this wrong assumption, he went on to congratulate Mustafa Bin-Halim on the first occasion he met him afterwards.  He was shocked by Bin-Halim’s angry reaction.  He deplored him for daring to assume a link between him and the Libyan Constitutional Union, which he described as a ridiculous proposal and described its leader as insane.

Sheikh Mansur continued to state that he had never seen Mustafa Bin-Halim this angry in all the years he knew him.  In his rage he advised Sheikh Mansur to stay away from the LCU, and to never forget that he was a political refugee in Saudi Arabia, where political activities by its guests are intolerable.

He offered his apologies to my emissary for not being able to join the LCU or provide it with any assistance, in-spite of him holding it in high esteem and praying for its success in achieving its goals.

I had no further contact with Sheikh Mansur El-Mahjoob until 1997 when I met him for the first time during a trip to the holy city of Makka.  He welcomed me warmly and jokingly told me “Why did you not keep your black hair as appeared in your photograph with King Idris[v]?  The case for restoring constitutional legitimacy is in need of the young people of Libya not the old ones with grey hair.  In the past decades the prevailing belief was that the monarchy in Libya –which represented the constitutional legitimacy in the country-, was always linked to the elderly.  Your call for its restoration through the LCU came about to dispel this belief and prove that constitutional legitimacy was aspired to even by young Libyans.”

  ** * **


Rajab Bin-Katu

Haj Rajab Bin-Katu was also one of the prominent personalities of Libya.  He filled a ministerial post during the monarchy, and was among the decision makers in parts of that era.  He was known among his contemporaries to be resolute and of strong mind in what he believed in.

I contacted Haj Rajab at the early stage of announcing the establishment of the LCU to inform him of the crux of its idea and principles through the hitherto mentioned booklets and publications in a similar fashion to other Libyan notables whom I have mentioned previously.

Mr. Bin-Katu’s reply came in a very warm letter in which he expressed his deep affection towards me and his moral support to my goals as manifested by the idea of the LCU.[vi]

Although Haj Rajab Bin-Katu never joined the LCU, nor did he participate in, or provide for its activities, he maintained a constant moral support to it.  Furthermore, he was of colossal support to my late father[vii] in the face of the vehement campaign led by Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat and Abdulhameed Bin Halim, which we mentioned earlier (part 5).

It is worth mentioning in this context a particular incident which took place in Alexandria to illustrate the depth of Haj Rajab’s backing of my father at that time.

They were both guests at a dinner banquet attended by most Libyans living in Alexandria at that time.  At the head of that banquet were Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat and Mr. Abdulhameed Bin Halim.  The two and a few of their followers began their usual barrage of provocative criticisms directed at my father regarding my political activities.  The comments soon turned to condemnation and were far from objective or constructive criticism.  After failing to convince them to maintain subjectivity and courtesy, my father found himself forced to abandon the social gathering and leave the scene.  Haj Rajab was the only one among the attendants who departed in solidarity with my father, as a protest to that unacceptable behaviour.

To be Continued....

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

12 October 2006


[i]  I have used this term as a translation of what is known in the Arabic language as:أهل الحل والعقد

[ii]  Sheikh Mansur El-Mahjoob was the head of Libya’s Supreme Court as well as the Dean of the University of Mohamed Ibn-Ali El-Senussi for Islamic Studies.

[iii] A copy of Sheikh Mansur El-Mahjoob’s letter is attached below (Appendix No.1).

[iv]  Sheikh Mansur El-Mahjoob was not alone in believing that the idea behind the establishment of the LCU was of Bin-Halim’s design, or at least that he fully supports it.  This notion was shared by many others.

[v] He was referring to the change in my appearance since that photo which was taken with the King in the beginning of the Eighties.  My hair and beard were black with no single grey hair then, while when I met him my hair was all grey.

[vi]   A copy of Mr. Bin-Katu’s letter is attached below (Appendix No.2)

[vii] Haj Rajab Bin-Katu and my father had a very close and durable friendship which went back many decades.


Appendix No. 1


 Translation of Letter from Sheikh Mansur El-Mahjoob

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

 Brother Mohamed Ben Ghalbon    (May Allah protect him)

 Salaam and Greetings,

I have gratefully received your kind letter dated 25/07/1982.  I was very pleased by your news.  I wish you and all sincere workers success and guidance from Allah in your efforts to serve the religion and the homeland.

I did not receive anything from you prior to this letter, which shows from its heading the sincerity of your intentions.  May Allah help you to what he desires and what would please him.

Peace and mercy of Allah be upon you.

Mansur El-Mahjoob

Makka Mukarrama

20th Shawal 1402


Appendix No. 2

 Translation of Letter from Haj Rajab Bin-Katu

 My dear son



 In the Arabic tradition, and especially so in our beloved country, which God willing shall return to what it was and better, no father or uncle had ever abandoned his son.  Therefore, I have always considered myself to be among the earliest members of the LCU if not one of the founders.

 Regards to all family members and the respected members of the LCU.

This is a response to your letter dated 17/01/82

May God help you and grant you success.

 Your Uncle,

Rajab Bin Katu



This part was published on   14 October 2006 the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 









بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (8)


(First published in Arabic on 11th September 2006)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union


Hajj Khalifa Azzarouq

 Prior to the establishment of the LCU I had not known or heard of the Libyan billionaire, Hajj Khalifa Azzarrouq. He was an émigré from the Ghirian area of Libya and was resident in Cairo where he managed his business and investments with the privileged status granted to him by the Egyptian government. 

 A friend of mine, who was also one of the founders of the Libyan Constitutional Union and had a close relationship with Hajj Khalifa advised me to contact him in order to obtain his financial support for the efforts of the LCU and make use of his many contacts and influence in the Arab political milieus, especially in Egypt.

 Hajj Khalifa Azzarrouq did not –at least to my knowledge- enjoy any sort of national fame or reputation that would enable one to ascertain his ideology.  Nor was he widely known as an intellectual or a scholar.  He was simply a self made businessman who made his fortune somehow.

 It is important to note, in this regard, that the founders of the LCU, had at the time of its establishment, adopted a clear policy concerning the finance of its activities, which was to seek the needed funds from the well to do patriotic Libyan immigrants.

 In following this policy the founders of the LCU were motivated by three codes of conduct which where adhered to from the beginning:

  1. The financing of the LCU should be confined to Libyan sources.  The wisdom behind this constraint is quite clear.


  1. Making use of the contacts and influence that some Libyans have in various Arab and non Arab countries to enlist their support for the realisation of the national Libyan demands for the liberation of the Libyan people from this corrupt and brutal regime and the return of the constitutional legitimacy to its proper place in the homeland.


  1. To strive to convince some leading Libyan personalities known for their wisdom, knowledge and influence (the wise and influential) to assume the leadership of the LCU in order to make use of their extensive contacts and experiences in leadership.

 This policy was exactly what motivated me to meet Hajj Khalifa at his office in Cairo.  My above mentioned friend arranged the meeting to take place in December 1982 while I was in Egypt on a visit dedicated to meetings with other Libyan notables residing in that country at that time.  I had high hopes of convincing him of financing the LCU and to use his influence and considerable political contacts in the Arab world to publicise our just cause.

 I received a very warm welcome from Hajj Khalifa.  We had a deep discussion about the financing of the activities of LCU.  I found him fully aware of all aspects and aims of the LCU beforehand. 

However, he stipulated that he personally hands his financial contribution to King Idris himself.  I found his condition astonishing for various reasons, which I tried to articulate them to him as follows:

·       King Idris did not have any direct relationship with the LCU, for he was neither its head nor one of its members.  He was, in this context, no more than the symbol of the constitutional legitimacy that the LCU is seeking and hoping to restore.

·        King Idris, from the very beginning, stipulated that he would not be implicated in the running of the LCU or in any activities associated with its work or its devised political plans.  This was so – as repeated in various locations of this article- out of obligations to the host country, and also because his health no longer allowed him to assume these burdens of responsibility, which he was reluctant to carry even during his reign as the country’s monarch.

·        I suggested to Hajj Khalifa that even if, by way of supposition, we ignored the above mentioned reasons we would still be facing another unsolvable obstacle, namely that the King never, in his entire life carried any money, or dealt with it.  There was constantly someone who would act on his behalf in these matters.  This was also the case before he became the King of Libya.  After becoming the King of Libya the matter became more pronounced and an employee was appointed to take care of the financial matters related to his living expenses.  Therefore, the insistence of handing the King money not belonging to him - because it was meant to cover the LCU activities – would be discourteous and no use would come of it, only the insult and psychological harm to the person of the King who insulated himself from money or dealing with it.

  ** * **    


In spite of the logicality and the cogency of the above mentioned reasons, Hajj Khalifa Azzarrouq refused to accept them and persisted in his demand to at least obtain receipts signed by the King himself and nobody else.

I told Hajj Khalifa, that his demand was unreasonable and not logical, for the matter, as was reasoned above, did not concern the King in any way; and questioned his insistence on involving the King in something he had nothing to do with.

I added that I did not mind arranging an appointment for him for a social visit to the King where he could enquire about him, his health and general affairs.  I explained that this would offer the king and his family a sense of warmth and affection which they were in much need of in their isolation away from home.  I further explained to him that such a visit from a person with the status he enjoyed in Egypt would bring multifaceted benefit to the King and his family.

However, for reasons unknown to me but which could be foretold, Hajj Khalifa refused this offer and my reasoning for it.  He was adamant and relentlessly insisted on the same two points: Either handing the money geared for the LCU activities to the King himself and obtaining from him a thank you letter, or getting receipts, for the donated sums of money, written by the King himself and authenticated by his personal signature.

After long and gruelling efforts, to convince Hajj Khalifa Azzarrouq of my logically argued point of view he argued against it in a way that was contrary to the basic principles of objectivity and insisted on his strongly held wrong and illogical opinion.  As I was about to leave without reaching agreement with him, Hajj Khalifa finally agreed that he, his wife and children would visit the King and provide him with financial aid as a gift that would help him with the hardship of living away from home at his old age.

Unfortunately, Hajj Khalifa Azzarrouq did not fulfil any of the commitments he made.  I tried, as did our mutual friend, to urge him to fulfil his promises, but his response to our communications was repeated procrastination.

I gave up on chasing Hajj Khalifa Azzarrouq and didn’t hear about him for sometime.  I then learnt that he had joined the organisation of Mr. Abdulhameed El-Bakoosh and paid huge sums of money to finance its activities.  Sometime later I learnt that he returned to reside in Libya after making a deal with the corrupt regime there.


 ** * **


Mohamed Ben-Younis

In addition to our personal acquaintance, Mohamed Ben-Younis and I were related. The wealthy position of his family and the government offices that he occupied in the two eras, the monarchy and the military [2], bestowed on him a certain prominence, which was enhanced by his intelligence and notable political and social awareness

His personality had an aura of gravity and solemnity among his cronies, who were constantly impressed by the aforementioned attributes.  The attractiveness of these attributes was crystallized in money and prestige and the behaviour of these companions was neither considered to be abnormal nor surprising. Further, this behaviour was not rare nor was it exclusive to these friends of Mohamed Ben-Younis.

From a different point of view this behaviour is in fact wide spread and almost considered to be normal among the urban dwellers in the societies of the third world.  A typical example of this behaviour could be noted in the two cities of Benghazi and Tripoli.

What is important here, is that this feeling of admiration and awe that the companions of Mr.Mohamed Ben-Younis had for his remarkable personality made him the one with the decisive opinion and the obeyed word whenever they met with him.


 ** * **


In the early days of the establishment of the LCU I sent Mr Ben-Younis, who was resident in Egypt then, the booklets explaining the orientation of the LCU and a letter to gauge his willingness to co-operate.  However, I did not receive a reply to this letter which I re-sent on the assumption that the postman was responsible for my not getting a reply.  It later transpired that the postman was blameless on both occasions in this matter. [3]

In the autumn of 1982, Mr. Ben-Younis came to Manchester to visit his brother Mustafa, who was a resident there, and was accompanied by Mr Yusuf Al-Shaibani and Mr Ali Al-Sallaak.

Mr Mohamed Ben-Younis contacted me, and asked me to meet him.  I invited him and his companions to dinner at my house.  That gathering lasted until the early hours of the next morning.

I immediately sensed that Mr. Ben-Younis’ call was not solely social.  From the beginning he alluded that he came to discuss the nature of the LCU, and at that point I asked him if he had received my letters which I had sent to him earlier in the year. He answered affirmatively and justified his not replying by saying that it would be more suitable to postpone the matter until he could meet me in person.

The discussion centred on the core idea of the LCU and its orientation which the people present liked and admired.  Further, Mr. Ben-Younis said that he saw this as the right way - if the people would unite under its banner - to realise the hope and the aspiration of the Libyan people to get rid of the military regime and the return of the constitutional legitimacy to the country.  At that point I saw it was opportune for me to offer to him to join the LCU to lead it toward achieving the desired aim, as I had done with Abdulhamid Al-Bakoush and Mansour Rashid El-Kikhia, in keeping with the policy that I was careful to follow.

Mohamed Ben-Younis asked me for time to think this matter over and to discuss it with some of his comrades in the arena of the national endeavour and said that he would reply to my offer at a later time. I told him that I would be coming to Cairo within the coming months and I would visit him to get his reply.

I travelled to Cairo in December of the same year and telephoned Mr Mohamed Ben-Younis and arranged an appointment to visit him in his residence to ascertain his reply.

On the set date I found Mohamed Ben-Younis waiting for me in his home in Cairo.  Also present were some of his close friends, including Mr. Yusuf Al-Shaibani, Mr. Sami Al-Jerbi and Dr. Mohamed Al-Gandouz. 

As soon as I started explaining the core idea of LCU to Ben-Younis and his friends Sami Al-Jerbi began attacking King Idris in a provocative manner.  Mr. Al-Jerbi claimed in this attack that the monarchy was out of date and that it was not desired by Libyans.  He condemned the orientation of the LCU as a certain failure because, in his opinion, the LCU limited its potential with its myopic identification with the King and the monarchy.

At first, I was in control of my temper while Al-Jerbi continued with his illogical utterances. I was about to refute his claims and convince him of the falsity of his discourteous assertion, which was neither objective nor true, however, he did not give me the chance to have a dialogue with him. He continued in his impolite allegations without paying any attention to the observed conversation etiquette and continued in his derision and sarcasm of King Idris (may Allah bestow His mercy on him) when he said mockingly, 

“Is the King, truly, still alive or is he dead? He is one of the old fossils weathered by time and long forgotten.  I do not believe at all that he is still alive. I think that the Egyptians have embalmed him, for they are skilled in the art of the Pharaonic embalming, to be used as a scarecrow whenever the need arises.”

During this time of Al-Jerbi’s silly and nonsensical comments deriding the King without observing the basic rules of good behaviour and manners, there was nothing for me to do except to rebuke him with a reply that would force him to follow the rules of polite behaviour which he did not respect, however, Mohamed Ben-Younis was faster than me in dealing with this situation by blaming Al-Jerbi for his shameful and disgraceful utterances.

From then on, it was not possible to continue talking about the subject that I came specifically to discuss. The atmosphere of the gathering had been poisoned by Al-Jerbi’s irresponsible comments, making the ambience unsuitable for the discussion of the subject.  After that the conversation took a different direction in order for a calming atmosphere to prevail on the gathering.

At the end of this meeting, Yusuf Al-Shaibani invited me and the rest of the people present for lunch at his house after two days to finish the talk that we had not started yet.

The meeting finished without discussing the idea of the LCU which was supposed to have taken place.


 ** * **


I met Mr Mohamed Ben-Younis again at Yusuf Al-Shaibani’s home two days later.  He told me that the idea upon which the LCU was established, was the sound and valid idea for the national struggle to liberate Libya from the military rule. And he said that sadly, dissidents did not support this idea.

Mr Mohamed Ben-Younis continued his speech about the LCU saying that most of the dissidents belonging to opposition groups and organisations of considerable weight, did not like the idea of there being different dissenting currents competing with their groups and organisations.  This was especially the case if these organisations had the potential elements that would help them in grasping and identifying the origin and the cause of the disease in the existence of the military regime and its continuation in ruling Libya.

In other words, the struggle for the liberation of the homeland from a “local” corrupt regime would inevitably face national opposition forces. These forces would reject this regime and strive for its downfall or its change.  However, it is not necessary in most cases for these forces, of different opposition trends and colours, to unite in order to achieve the common goal. 

This intense contest regarding the achievement of this noble cause among the comrades in the struggle, as happened in similar cases in the world, might even transform them into opponents and fierce enemies.

The origin of this phenomenon could be traced to human nature, in its constant egotism and the searching for distinction to the extent that the protagonists would become enemies and hate each other in the heat of their competition to realise the desired common goal. 

There are three exceptional cases, in which the forces of the opposition would unite to realise the nation goal of being liberated from its oppressors which could be summarised in the following points:

o           When the individuals in these groups would reach the level of consciousness, transcendence and the human moral advancement, the individual or the group, with the common interests, would act altruistically and work for the public interest and not their own limited personal interests.

·        Secondly, in the case of an accord of a group around a belief and their unity under its banner then all the personal desires and interests would vanish in order to realise the main common goal which is beneficial to all.

·        Thirdly, if the body in power were an occupying entity or foreign colonialists then the objective would be undisputedly common to all and therefore, unity and cooperation would be a patriotic duty for everyone.

 In his detailed speech, Mohamed Ben-Younis continued to say that the active national opposition forces might agree on the end or the aim for the realisation of the desired national goal, however, they would disagree about the means used.  These means are two fold: The first would be military action leading to changing the corrupt regime by force; the second would be the utilisation of the media with the use of political propaganda through pamphlets and other publications aimed at creating collective awareness of the situation at home and to stir up the Libyan society to act.

However, the course the LCU was following was not in this devised plan for the Libyan opposition.  Namely because the LCU deals directly with the real problem concerning the difficult and tragic situation of the Libyan People.  The LCU offers, within the framework of its presented core idea, the most promising solution to realising the hoped for goals. The way to achieve this is through a legal and a political struggle and diligent human efforts as expressed and explained in its intelligent message that demands the return of the constitutional legitimacy to the country.

In this turbulence and for the reasons that have been mentioned, many of the dissidents have attacked the LCU’s orientation because its adopted course of action belittled the totality of their presented courses of action.

Mr Mohamed Ben-Younis continued his lecture and indicated that all that had been mentioned before were the main reason behind the highly skilled campaign launched by some opposition personalities to decry the LCU and to raise doubts about its success. This campaign revolved around connecting the LCU with the King and the monarchy and, deliberately, ignoring the foundation of the core idea of the LCU as represented by the return of the constitutional legitimacy to its proper place in the country.

He then precluded by saying that he knew fully well that the idea upon which the LCU is founded contains in its core the solution to the Libyan problem.  And that, on the other hand, he did not see a grain of truth in the understanding that was being spread by some scheming elements to distort this idea by stripping it from its genuine roots of a call to restore constitutional legitimacy – regardless of the presence or absence of the King - and deliberately confusing it with a restricted call for the return of the monarchy.

Mr. Mohamed Ben-Younis then arrived at the main point in his long and carefully prepared speech of that day, which shall be the subject of the next part of this article.

To be continued...

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

27th October 2006

[1] He gained membership of the boards of directors of several banks in Egypt, and was also appointed by the Egyptian government as honourary consultant in some government investment departments. In addition he was included in several Egyptian official trade delegations which negotiated commercial and financial deals with foreign countries and corporations.

[2] During the monarchy era Mr. Mohamed Ben-Younis occupied the offices of the attorney general of the city of Benghazi, and the post of Head of the Municipality of the city.

In the early period of the corrupt military regime he was appointed Mayor of Benghazi, then Minister of the Union (the so-called union between Libya and Egypt), which was based in Cairo.  He turned opponent of the regime in the early eighties for few years.

[3] I sent the letter to Mr. Mohamed Ben-Younis on 16th January 1982, and re-sent it to him on 16th February 1982 (copy attached below).



Translation of LCU letter to Mr Mohamed Ben-Younis

dated 16 January 1982


In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate


The esteemed Mohamed Ben-Younis


 I ask Allah that you and your noble family are all well.  I hope that you have received the Libyan Constitutional Union’s three booklets which detail its idea.

Dear Ustad Mohamed,

If you think that there could be a chance to cooperate to serve the Libyan national case, please know that you are the person whom I, and members of the LCU, would be honoured to work with.

Waiting to hear from you, please accept the respect and appreciation of all the LCU membership.

Till we meet, Regards


Mohamed Abdu Ben Ghalbon




This part was published on   22 October 2006 the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home"   ,  "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 








بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (9)


(First published in Arabic on 22nd September 2006)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union


Cont. Mohamed Ben-Younis


In the previous part of this article I stopped at the invitation from Mr. Yusuf Al-Shaibani to Mohamed Ben-Younis, Sami El-Jerbi, Dr. Mohamed El-Gandooz and myself which he extended at the end of our meeting at Mr. Ben-Younis’s home.

I considered Mr. Al-Shaibani’s invitation to me as an attempt to continue the conversation about the Libyan Constitutional Union, which was so rudely hijacked by Sami El-Jerbi’s irrelevant provocation[1].


 ** * **    


On the set date I was warmly and courteously received by Mr. Yusuf Al-Shaibani.  Mr. Ben-Younis was already there when I arrived but neither Mr. El-Jerbi nor Dr El-Gandooz showed up.  It occurred to me at the time that their absence was possibly by instruction from Mr. Ben-Younis, who perhaps wanted to give our prospective meeting a better chance of developing into a productive session.


** * **  


I talked to Mohamed Ben-Younis about the idea of the Libyan Constitutional Union, and found him fully acquainted with all its aspects through the LCU’s publications and our previous meeting.  He showed his abundant admiration for the idea, which he considered to carry within it the solution to the Libyan ordeal.  He also expressed his sadness at the lack of support it received from the significant and influential figures of the Libyan opposition.

After an elaborate introduction in which he liberally praised the direction of the Libyan Constitutional Union, Mr. Ben-Younis said that he feared that the opportunity to benefit from the LCU’s brilliant idea would be squandered after certain sections of the Libyan opposition had successfully disfigured its wider aim, of restoring constitutional legitimacy to the country, and deformed it to a limited call for the restoration of the monarchy.

Mr. Ben-Younis further expressed his concerns that this false linkage, which had effectively been achieved by those who were spreading it, would inevitably hamper the sincere and honourable efforts of the LCU and would ultimately result in the total dissipation of such a wonderful opportunity.  For it was no secret that the monarchy was not among proposed solutions on the agenda of the then current Libyan opposition scene.  Nor was it considered a favoured system of government by anyone as a replacement to the dictatorship that is ruling the country at the present time[2].

In other words, the Libyan opposition was at that time[3] not prepared to consider the struggle for restoring the monarchy, and was in fact working towards forming a new political regime which would be made up of ambitious personalities from within its ranks to take control of the country in place of the wretched regime it aimed to oust.

Mr. Ben-Younis deliberately continued his carefully prepared speech in a well rehearsed pace to state that those “malicious lot” had in fact succeeded in achieving their calculated goal of firmly tying the aim of the LCU with the restoration of the monarchy.  They, consequently, deprived the LCU from a platform from which it could continue working towards achieving its noble target.  As a result its idea of restoring constitutional legitimacy to Libya would be left blowing in the wind.

He then told me in his articulate manner that he had a proposition which contained not only the way out of this difficult trap, and in accepting it I would record for myself a grand deed of performing a distinguished patriotic service to the national struggle, which would benefit all parties involved.

I listened very intently to his proposal.  He went on to persuasively explain in length the details of his offer, which could be summed up as a patriotic deed.  I would publicly announce that the true concept the Libyan Constitutional Union revolved around the call for the return of the monarchy to rule the country, rather than a call for the restoration of the constitutional legitimacy.  In other words endorse the malicious rumours labelled against me.

Mr. Ben-Younis continued by arguing that doing so was the only way to preserve the opportunity of benefiting from the LCU’s original concept which has suffered from the saboteurs who succeeded in confining the LCU to an organisation essentially aspiring to restore the monarchy.

He and other good patriots would then, adopt the initial idea which calls for the restoration of the constitutional legitimacy in a new formation and attempt to rally everybody around it in order to achieve what is good for the country.


** * **


At that moment Mr. Ben-Younis became very small in my eyes for daring to try to sweet talk me into adopting such a ridiculous proposition.  To make sure that I understood what he was trying to sell me, I enquired “do you want me to publicly concede to the “malicious lot”, betray myself and my collegues at the LCU who have joined this campaign under the attraction of its original and clear idea and change course to become a Royal party?”

I further added, if I ever followed such a perverse approach, I would truly deserve all the stigmas and rumours that have been levelled at me by those antagonists, which they have thrown at me since the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union until this very day.

I told him that I found myself forced to afford him valuable advice in return for his deviant and eccentric proposal.  I advised him to go ahead with establishing –together with the patriotic colleagues he mentioned - a body whose declared aim is the restoration of constitutional legitimacy to the country.  I elaborated by saying that he didn’t need permission from me or anybody else in this regard.  And that there was nothing wrong with the existence of organisations that work for similar agendas, as the success of one is a gain for all.

I further clarified by saying that no one has a monopoly on this idea or any idea in the field of national duty.  And that I wish him and his collegues well in their patriotic endeavour. 

I continued by asking him to leave the LCU alone and to never worry about its competition.  For –as he stated earlier- the “malicious lot” have already taken care of it by trapping its idea and aspiration inside a narrow political horizon, which –according to his own calculations- would not take it further than a few steps on the road of the national struggle before it collapses. 

I concluded by saying that I came to him with high hopes of gaining his support for the direction of the Libyan Constitutional Union when it seemed to me that he fathomed the intricacies of its idea in a fashion only few others could match.  And that I came with expectations that he would join the LCU to add to it his considerable weight which was rich in polished political experience, as well as his pool of personal contacts with significant people.  I asked him for the sake of all this to wish us well in what we strife to achieve.

On that note our discussion about the LCU came to an end, and we spent the rest of the meeting chatting about current social affairs.  I left shortly afterward to return to my place of residence in Cairo.


** * **


I never saw Mr. Ben-Younis again until the death of my father in late July of 1984 when he came to my family’s house in Alexandria to offer his condolences to me and my family.

During that occasion Mr. Ben-Younis tried to talk to me about his National Covenant of Honour project[4] which he mentioned during our meeting in Manchester in the autumn of 1982, but was quick to realise that it was not an appropriate time to discuss such matters.

It is relevant to mention in this context that I received a letter in April 1984 inviting me to express my opinion on the National Covenant of Honour project which it enclosed a copy of.  The letter was of unknown origin and showed just "The Preparatory Committee to Draft a National Covenant of Honour” as signature without disclosing any name of the said committees.  Its sender never bothered to mention his name or address in order to reply to.  I had no other alternative but to ignore that letter.

Three months later I received a phone call on 23rd July 1984 from Mr. Yusuf Al-Shaibani enquiring about my lack of response to the letter he sent me!  I explained to him that now after learning from him that it was he who sent that letter I will respond to it in writing.

The sudden death of my father led to the delay in my response which was in the form of a letter I addressed to Mr. Mohamed Ben-Younis dated 20th September 1984 in which I expressed my views on his proposed covenant of honour, which did not differ in the slightest from the discussions we had in my house in Manchester in 1982 (copies of those letters are attached below).

To be continued

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

18th October 2006


** * **




Publication of this series will stop during the month of Ramadan.

It will resume immediately after Eid El-Fitr

Warm greetings and Ramadan Mubarak to all.


[1] See part 8 of this series under Mohamed Ben-Younis :

[2] It is perhaps worth mentioning that all this took place in December 1982.

[3] In the early years of the 1980’s

[4] The National Covenant of Honour was an idea by Mohamed Ben-Younis, in which he tried to rally figures of the exiled Libyan opposition around it.



Appendix 1:

Copy of the covering letter to Draft National Covenant of Honour

Translation of the covering letter to Draft a National Covenant of Honour

The resolve of all Libyans inside and outside the homeland has united on the necessity to adopt a way that leads to a formula to meet and unite.  Inspired by the people’s said desire and prompted by your endeavour and in order to save time, a “preparatory committee for formulating the necessary requirement of unity” has been established to formulate the necessary requirements needed for unification.  In the present stage of the struggle, the committee is guided by similar precedents in this field and by the thoughts of all Libyan national forces active inside and outside the country.

Implementing all the above and by the help of Allah, the enclosed draft “Covenant of Honour”, was contrived.  It contains the minimum of unifying ideas to establish a collective leadership in the present stage of the struggle and to guide it within the requirements of this stage.  This project was initially introduced through the National Libyan League.  However, the confinement of the activities of the said League to social work only led the committee to progress in this path away from the League, within what is possible and in the legal ways.

In any case, they are ideas we propose to you with the hope that they will gain your approval, and to let us know if you have any thoughts that enhance the effectiveness of this Covenant.  The committee is prepared to meet with you in an agreed time and place.  We hope that this would be at the earliest possible time.  May God Grant success.

"The Preparatory Committee to Draft a National Covenant of Honour”

9th Rajab 1404

11th April 1984


Appendix 2:

Translation from Arabic of the Libyan Constitutional Union’s Response To the

Draft National Covenant of Honour


20 September 1984

 To: Mr. Mohammad Benyounis

  Cairo   -   Egypt

Re: Draft National Covenant of Honour


When we met in Britain during 1982, I remember that one of the few topics we discussed was your plan to proclaim a certain covenant or Covenant; and we told you our opinion about it at the time. As we parted, we were under the impression that you had been fully convinced by the Libyan Constitutional Union's argument against the idea.

Some two years later, however, we received a letter dated 11 April 1984, bearing an illegible signature on behalf of a "Preparatory Committee to draft a National Covenant of Honour".  To our surprise, we discovered that the draft copy attached to it was identical to the suggestion you had verbally put forth at our previous meeting—a notion about which we had already expounded our reservations for a number of obvious reasons.

The covering letter was just another invitation to consider the same subject, albeit on a wider scale, whereas the enclosed text contained absolutely nothing new.  Furthermore, the letter made no reference to the membership of the "Preparatory Committee" or the date of its formation; nor was there any clue as to where it could be contacted in case of reply or inquiry.  And, since the Libyan Constitutional Union had never been informed of the activities of any such committee, we were actually at a loss to find out just how it could be reached.

We could not very well rely on mere conjecture or guessing in an important matter like this.  Eventually, however, we received a telephone call from Mr. Yousef Sheibani on 23 July 1984.  He invited us to attend a convention to be held in Cairo within a few days of that date; and we also learned from him unofficially the names of some members of the committee in question.

Now that we have ascertained that the draft Covenant presented through the said preparatory committee is exactly the same as your own original scheme, we find it necessary to make our comments known once again as briefly as possible.

We must also be quite blunt in this matter, because we are all dealing with a highly sensitive public issue which admits of no private considerations or personal courtesies.  Still, we do hope that "difference of opinion will not sour friendship", as so auspiciously put in the context of your proposal.

Perhaps the most objectionable aspect of this proposed “Covenant of National Honour" is that it hardly conceives of the Libyan people taking any active or effective part in changing the status quo.  The whole idea is based on the expectation of some kind-hearted, military coup; and we are all supposed to just sit back and wait, pledging right now that the moment it happens, we shall rush out to shout our support for it with a deluge of "telegrams, letters and memorandums" full of the national demands "listed in this Covenant above all". Then the "gentlemen of the foreseen coup" would graciously condescend to hand over the reins of power to a civilian government in return for "membership of the constituent assembly" as laid down in the Covenant.

Such, in a nutshell, is the overall picture which emerges from this code of "honour".  Regrettably, it depicts an outlook that is both very naive and extremely depressing.

Looking back on all the atrocities suffered by our wretched people in the wake of one destructive military coup, how on earth could the "Libyan resistance forces" be invited to come together for the first time merely to pledge their recognition in advance of any fresh coup that might be tempted to consider some beggarly petition for the equitable rights of the people? The entire history of military coups, including the infernal one that dominates our nation today, clearly indicates that (no matter how well-intentioned, some individuals might be at the outset) the ruling junta would invariably turn into an absolute, repressive authority that would not hesitate to back out of whatever promises or commitments made earlier on.

Indeed, the arrogance of easy power could become so strong that some coup leaders might even make the absurd boast that if it were not for them, the nation would never have been able to bring about anything like their so-called revolution, as is the case in our own country.

Now then, is it not utterly disgraceful that the Libyan opposition "forces" should be called upon to place their future plans totally at the risk of once more exposing all Libyans to such humiliation?

This proposed Covenant of yours is asking us all to “commit ourselves to definite things and goals in the current phase of National struggle.  After the expected coup d'état has been carried out by the “forces of good” in our armed forces.....”  Are we to understand from this prophecy that the “preparatory committee” itself has made preparations for an impending coup?  Otherwise, how would you know that any potential coup would be staged by none but the “forces of good”?  And what if they were to be outstripped by some other forces of “less” good?

A quick glance at the record of contemporary coups -of which the coup of our own national army is a prominent example -should be enough to show us that most 'forces of good' are either eliminated by violent means once they have played out their role in consolidating the junta's authority; or they too, may turn willingly or unwillingly into mere tools to serve the new oppressive regime.

This, of course, does not mean that the Libyan Armed Forces have ever been short of excellent patriots who share their people's pains and aspirations.

Such men will inevitably turn against the regime sooner or later. They probably feel the brunt of its oppression much more acutely than a lot of people may think who are out of touch with the realities of constant confrontation and daily conflict.  Therefore, a sudden military coup is always a distinct possibility; and, despite all adverse conditions, the civilian population may very well be surprised by such an eventuality at any time.

But the desired fundamental change must not take place in isolation from the indomitable forces of the people as a whole.  Otherwise, the nation may only get out of one ordeal to be plunged into another vicious circle of a similar chain of events.

In other words, if the armed forces were to take the initiative in bringing down the present dictatorship out of a sense of national responsibility to fulfill the people's expectations, they would be doing nothing more than their normal duty. There is no reason why the military should then be idolized as heroic saviours to such an extent that any special or exceptional privileges would have to be conceded to them in sharp contrast with the lot of ordinary citizens—as your proposed "Code of Honour" seems to suggest.

After all, the armed forces' contribution to any democratic change would be a great service to their benefit as well.  It would be an opportunity to redeem their sullied military honour and wipe off the shame inflicted upon them by the rule of armed gangsters over the past fifteen years.

Besides, those who are solely motivated by the dictates of honour do not usually expect to be rewarded for the performance of patriotic duties.

The second objective in the proposed "Covenant of Honour" provides for the election of a constituent assembly during a transition period.  At the end of the plan, however, we find another paragraph which guarantees to the "men of the anticipated coup" that they themselves would become members of the constituent assembly "by virtue of their leadership of the military movement". How can such an explicit assurance be reconciled with any call for free elections, unless we actually intend to manipulate our future electoral system for the sake of this "prospective coup"?

We can understand, for instance, how the whole country has been forced, to abandon its Constitution and all democratic institutions since the people suddenly found themselves in the face of an overpowering military regime which usurped their rights at gun-point.  But to give up any democratic right or principle so voluntarily (even before it has been regained by the people) is a very strange requirement indeed.  We shall leave it here without further comment.

Let us now move on to the speech delivered by the preparatory committee at the conference held in Cairo on 4th August 1984.  It contends that “those who call themselves independent..... often have no objection to flirting with the gangs; and unless this proposed national Covenant of honour is adopted, such flirtation and rapprochement will develop even further; and we shall have given them the chance do so”.

We take it that the above passages refer to those émigrés who remain basically unattached to any of the existing opposition factions.  In this sense, we see no justification for criticising all “independents” en masse.  As a matter of fact, such a strong attack on these people is rather illusive and even inconsistent with the very concept of political democracy.

The truth is that the Libyans now living abroad do not have to “flirt” or come to terms with the regime in any way, unless they are actually among its puppets or merely trying not to antagonize it.  On the other hand, those who do have certain dealings with the regime -whether directly or indirectly- are not in need of encouragement from anyone; nor could, they be dissuaded by any "code of honour", since they do not seem to have any sense of honour in the first place. Their false pretensions to patriotic fervour cannot fool all the people all the time. They need not even be considered in the context of codes of honour.

Nevertheless, we believe that earnest patriotic endeavour could not and should not be monopolised, or controlled, by any individual or group.  All sincere Libyans are fully entitled as a matter of course to choose whatever method they deem fit to oppose the dictatorship that dominates their country and the fate of their nation.  It is by no means discreditable for any person to decide not to belong to any particular one of the dissident organisnations now in existence.

The slogan "No independents henceforth" (as verbalised in the speech by the committee) looks like another side of the same familiar coin. It is essentially no different from the declaration of "no political parties after today" which is a great favourite of military regimes in general.  What the Libyan of today needs most of all is the freedom of original and independent thinking as an indispensable democratic weapon to fight against fascism and crack the hard shells of monochrome thought, autocratic rule and arbitrary opinion.

In conclusion, we wish to go back once more to the text of your proposed Covenant; for it harps on the theme of a "prospective coup" in a decidedly worrying tone.  The standpoint of the Libyan Constitutional Union has been made abundantly clear in warning against the dangers of classic military coups.  They usually have the effect of a temporary drug, distracting the people from their real aspirations in a sudden exuberance of joy for getting rid of some former oppression.  But, sure enough, they soon turn against the very same people they are supposed to have delivered from all evil.

We, Libyans, had better not gamble on any "expected" or unexpected coup d'état.

Let us, instead, remember one recent event in the history of our Arab region. Only 20 years ago, the unarmed Sudanese people managed to overthrow a fierce military government without having recourse to any "Covenant" of this sort.

We certainly do not think that our own people will ever stand in need of publicly documenting their “national honour” in readiness for a coup d'état.

Mohamed A. Ben Ghalbon


Libyan Constitutional Union

Manchester / UK

Please click here to view the original document in Arabic



This part was published on   October 2006 the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 









بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Part (10)

(First published in Arabic on 27th October 2006)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union


Haj Ghaith Saif Al-Nasr

The good name and reputation of the Saif Al-Nasr family in Libya make any introduction to this family and its members redundant. The first generation of this family bravely performed the honourable duty of defending the homeland against foreign occupation and repeatedly sacrificed their lives and possessions. They fought along with their other brothers under the banner of the Senussi movement.

Following independence, the Libyan state acknowledged the loyalty and steadfastness of this family of freedom fighters by conferring on its second generation high honorary and political positions. Haj Ghaith Saif Al-Nasr was among the members of this family who assumed these high positions. He was appointed as the Wali of the province of Fezzan and later as its governor after the abolition of the federal system of government in 1963. Further, Haj Ghaith had been appointed as the Libyan ambassador to Chad and remained in this position until the usurping of power by the military in their coup d’etat of 1st September 1969.

Another member of the family, Mr. Saif Al-Nasr Abdul-Jalil Saif Al-Nasr was appointed a minister of defence in various successive governments.


** * ** 


I spent most of the month of July and the last days of June 1982 in the Moroccan capital, Rabat. This period coincided with the holy month of Ramadan.  I spent most of the fasting month and Eid El-Fitr in one of the historical city’s hotels with the exception of a few days when I made a quick visit back to Britain during which I met Mr Abdulhamid Albakoush who visited me at my home in Manchester. [1]

The star of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) at that time was rising very fast and Rabat was one of the main centres of this organisation’s growing activities. No other group or organisation could attain this level of activity.

It was not difficult to notice the presence of the numerous leaders and members of NFSL in the Moroccan capital. Moreover, it was equally easy for the organisers of the NFSL to obtain personal information about Libyans in that country, be they residents or visitors.


  ** * **


One day I received a phone call from Haj Ghaith Saif Al-Nasr whom I had neither met nor known beforehand.  He expressed his desire to meet me in the hotel where I was staying [2].  As well as being one of the notable members of the Saif Al-Nasr family, Haj Ghaith was also one of the founders and the prominent leaders of the NFSL, and its deputy general secretary.

Haj Ghaith arrived at the hotel at the set time, soon after Asr Prayers.  I received him in the entrance hall and we moved to an empty and quiet corner in the hotel foyer to discuss the subject for which my guest took the trouble of coming to visit me on that memorable day.

I immediately noticed the pragmatic manner that my honourable guest was observing in dealing with me.  He did not waste his time in the customary Libyan protocols of courtesies, civilities or the lengthy conviviality. Haj Ghaith went straight to the subject that he came to address without any delay or hesitation.

Haj Ghaith told me in an apparent temper and disquiet [3] that he could neither understand nor appreciate the reasoning behind my adopting a diverse approach to the one agreed upon by everybody else. For, he continued, my founding of the Libyan Constitutional Union was, in his opinion, disbanding the efforts and dispersing the potential power to change.

Furthermore, he continued, I should join this mass movement as represented by the NFSL which was supported by the big powers and enjoyed the help of the influential countries in the Arab World. Moreover, he added, the NFSL was not only supported by most of the Libyan people but also by rich and politically influential Libyan personalities.  Therefore, my insistence on being outside this social accord, cohesiveness and collaboration, which had been achieved by the NFSL through its structure as an opposition organisation, would make me out of step with everybody else. 

In reference to the call of the LCU for unity around the person of the King and the renewal of allegiance to him, Haj Ghaith Saif Al-Nasr said, that they, the members of the Saif Al-Nasr family, were Senussis by nature and that the Senussi ethos ran in their blood and if it had happened that a vein under the skin of any of them was found without this type of blood then it would be cut off.  He continued, that they did not accept, under any circumstances, anybody to lecture them on their family’s loyalty to the Senussi movement in general and to King Idris in particular.

Haj Ghaith continued by saying that, in this regard, there was a firm intention to honour King Idris after the liberation of Libya from the oppressive Qaddafi regime.  Therefore, there was no need to unite around him, for this would not make any difference.

I listened to my visitor’s speech throughout, which was saturated with severe criticism of my stance and perspective that was different to that of the NFSL system of ideas and organisational approach. This lasted all the time between his arrival just after Asr prayers till just before Maghrib (sunset).


** * **


After he had finished all he had to say and was about to leave I said to Haj Ghaith Saif Al-Nasr, that I had , in summary, four points I wanted to tell him very quickly as a reply to his previous address:

Firstly, honouring the King, in essence, should not take place after the liberation of Libya with ceremonial speeches and a memorial medal. True honouring, for those who understand its meaning, should take place during his harsh exile and bitter isolation, alone and away from home through restoring the esteem which is due to him and showing respect and appreciation by rallying around his person.


Secondly, in the absence of undertaking such a step, his reference to the non-acceptance of the Saif Al-Nasr family of anybody to discuss their loyalty to the Senussi movement in general and King Idris in particular by describing this loyalty with the blood running in their veins, remains mere rhetoric.  The extent of somebody’s loyalty could only be measured according to their actions during the period of history in which they live. And that is what is consequential in this regard. However, one could not depend on stances of the forebears in previous history to absolve the individuals of their current duties and present responsibilities in proving and showing the extent of loyalty which they claimed they had proved and were consequently proud of.

What is meant here is that the judgement and the evaluation of individuals vis-à-vis their moral and ethical stances during successive historical periods could only be made within the context of their contemporary events and political circumstances.

The previous historical periods to these events and circumstances have no bearing on these judgements and evaluations.

Therefore, for the description that he mentioned- concerning the flow of the Senussi blood in the veins of the members of the Saif Al-Nasr family to be credible he would have to go to King Idris and renew his allegiance to him. This renewal of allegiance was due to King Idris for he was the representative of the constitutional legitimacy as the entire Libyan nation honoured him to be.

Furthermore, the above mentioned metaphor had been adopted from a saying by his uncle Mohammad Saif Al-Nasr, who said when he was oppressively and wrongly incarcerated by the dictatorial regime, “If I had a vein not pulsating with Senussi ethos I would slash it.”  He meant every word he said.  Moreover, he restricted what he said to himself and did not include any other member of the Saif Al-Nasr family. He - may Allah bestow His mercy on him and make paradise his abode- never retracted from this belief in spite of the pressures and the bargaining of his jailers to set him free. He preferred death in prison to renouncing his principles. He was true to his principles because of his determination, his strong faith, his courage, his fortitude and firmness in what is right.


Thirdly, I added that he might not agree with me on this at this moment in time due to our diverging points of view; in spite of all the huge resources and the immense support that the NFSL has received to liberate the country from Gaddafi’s rule, the whole enterprise is doomed to inevitable failure. The dream of toppling Gaddafi’s regime would not be realised through this specific means.

I told him not to be fooled by the support from the great powers for the NFSL at that present time and bear in mind, with certainty, that these countries had their own plans, aims and interests without any consideration for the interests of the Libyan people and their bitter suffering under the rule of this corrupt regime. I added that time would show how true and accurate this analysis would be.

I continued to say if this proves to be true – as I was sure it was – he was more than welcome to join the Libyan Constitutional Union. For the LCU is suited for members of the illustrious Saif Al-Nasr family to be at the forefront of it.  The bright history they attained by way of their fighting alongside the Senussi movement and their loyalty to it made them most eligible to assume leadership positions in the Libyan Constitutional Union [4].


The final point can be deduced from a simple question of two parts: Why do some of you go to so much trouble in your attempts to criticise my political orientation and to persuade me to abandon it? Is it really the case that the major obstacle to your efforts for the national cause lies in my political orientation?

The answer to this question is in what they said and in their criticism of me. For these critics said on more than one occasion that their approach to the struggle would not face failure and its success would be certain. The elements of the certainty of this success come from the absolute support their idea gets from the international, Arab and regional powers. Add to this, success according to these critics, could also be attributed to the power of money, men and equipment that their ideas, methods and orientation of the struggle attracted from the beginning.  

Therefore, no impediment existed for their achieving the success that they were aspiring to under any consideration and my political orientation would not change this fact at all. So I requested they leave me alone as there would be no fear that I or my orientation would have any detrimental effect on the realisation of their goals.


** * **


And so ended my encounter with Haj Ghaith Saif Al-Nasr, who did not like my reply as evidenced by the angry expression on his face.  Maghrib was about to arrive so I insisted that he accepted my invitation to break our fast together in the restaurant at the hotel where I was staying.

However, he refused my invitation and muttered as he turned away towards the door of the hotel waving his hand that his Iftar (breaking of his fast) was awaiting him at his house.

As I said earlier, I spent most of the month of Ramadan and Eid El-fitr in the Moroccan capital where many of the members of the NFSL had their homes or were staying in its hotels. I knew some of these members personally; however, I did not see any of them.

My only contact with any of the Libyans in that country at that time was with Mr Mohammad Othman Essaid who from time to time would invite me to break the fast with him at his home.


** * **


Mr. Saif Al-Nasr Abduljalil Saif Al-Nasr

 It was only natural that Mr. Saif Al-Nasr Abduljalil Saif Al-Nasr be among the list of Libyan dignitaries (of the wise and influential category) whom the LCU approached to try to attain support of its patriotic mission.  He was of a distinguished status in the Libyan society both politically and socially.

I had a warm and cordial relationship with Mr. Saif Al-Nasr Abduljalil which dated back a few years.  This made it easy to initially contact him and thereafter set up a meeting in the winter of 1982.  He welcomed me very warmly in his flat in Cairo where he lived permanently.  As we entered the sitting room I was attracted by a very impressive portrait of His Majesty King Idris which was hung on the wall.  It was a very beautiful photograph mounted on a magnificent frame, which showed King Idris in his full glory.


** * **


After chatting briefly about past memories and the present ordeal and tribulations of the homeland under the repressive and corrupt regime, we began discussing the idea of the LCU.  I was anxious to assess Saif Al-Nasr’s view and stand on the establishment of the LCU and its proposed direction.

Saif Al-Nasr’s full knowledge of the details of the LCU’s Idea, motives and aims spared me the exertion of explaining and elaborating, for he had had a good look at all the publications by the LCU prior to that meeting [5].

I asked Saif Al-Nasr about his view and standpoint on the LCU’s idea, which called for the consolidation around the King as a first step towards restoring to Libya the usurped constitutional legitimacy.  With King Idris as the focal point of this constitutional legitimacy, as he was the undisputed choice of the entire nation which elected him as its leader and national symbol of this constitutional legitimacy in accordance with the nation’s constitution which it formulated on the eve of independence.

I further clarified by expressing my sincere wish that he would take the lead in realizing the objective of rallying around the king, which would go a long way to supporting the effort along the road of the task of restoring the country’s lost constitutional legitimacy.

At that point Saif Al-Nasr objected to my appeal to him to rally around the King.  He saw that as an insult to him and to members of his family who never ceased to be loyal and were whole heartedly devoted to the Senussi movement since its emergence in the late 18th century.

He added that loyalty to King Idris was a duty and an obligation on every single member of the Saif Al-Nasr family and that they do not need anybody to persuade them to illustrate or prove it.

He passionately went on, in a show of his devotion and loyalty to King Idris, by saying that the necks of the Saif Al-Nasr’s family never obeyed or yielded to anybody but this man, placing the edge of his palm on the back of his neck while pointing to the photo of King Idris with his other hand.

I immediately conceded to his objection which was consistent with my own firm knowledge of his family’s long and honourable history in serving the Senussi movement and devotion to its masters.  I further said to him that we were both in agreement in this regard and therefore there should be no problem which would prevent him from using his considerable prestige and influence to gather a group of likewise Libyan notables from émigrés in Egypt and other countries, and lead them to the King to offer their support to him and renew their allegiance to his Majesty.

I further clarified that what was consequential here was the level of success achieved in serving the national cause, and that did not mean having a monopoly on the means that lead to achieving it.

In other words, the LCU does not demand from others to come under its wing in order to achieve the common national interest, but strongly promotes a variety of channels that will eventually lead to realising the goals aspired to by the Libyan people.

That is to say that Mr. Saif Al-Nasr did not need the LCU at all to express his loyalty and support to the King.  The field was open to him and to others to rectify the inverted image of our country’s case, which would never be rectified without rallying around the King and consolidating behind him as a first step towards retrieving our country’s plundered constitutional legitimacy.

I went a step further in my attempt to secure the goal of my visit by offering to arrange a meeting for Mr. Saif Al-Nasr with the King where he could visit his Majesty accompanied by a group of Libyan dignitaries.  He thanked me profusely and told me that he did not need my intercession, for his path to visiting the King is wide open.

Hence, I parted company with Saif Al-Nasr fully content that I would soon hear that he had paid His Majesty a visit accompanied by a number of prominent Libyans to declare their loyalty and support.  Instead, I heard not long afterwards, that he had joined Mr. Abdulhamedd Al-Bakoosh’s organisation.  The rest is well known history.  King Idris passed away without this visit ever materialising.

To be continued

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

17th November 2006


(Many thanks to Mustafa for translating this document from Arabic)


[1] Details of this meeting with Mr. Abdulhamedd Al-Bakoosh are in part four of this series.

[2] When Mr. Gaith Saif Al-Nasr told me on the phone he wanted to see me I thought that he wanted to invite me to have “Iftar” at his house.

[3] I thought that Haj. Gaith Saif Al-Nasr was talking to me in this temper and rough pitch because he either was under the influence of the fast in that hot summer day which often makes people tense and irritable; or that he was a naturally bad tempered person and that was how he usually communicated with people.  I found out later that I was wrong on both accounts.

[4] All my expectations in this regard have unfortunately turned out to be true.

[5] As I did with other Libyan notables, I sent by post copies of the LCU’s publications to Mr. Saif Al-Nasr Abduljalil Saif Al-Nasr followed by a personal letter.  In that letter (copy enclosed below) I asked him to forward copies of the said publications to Haj. Ghaith whose address I couldn’t attain. I was eager for him to be familiar with the call and aims of the LCU, in the hope that we could gain his sympathy and support.  I wrongly referred to Haj Ghaith in that as Saif Al-Nasr’s brother.  When I met the latter he corrected me that Ghaith is in fact his nephew not his brother


Copy of the LCU’s letter to Mr.Saif Al-Nasr Abdul-Jalil dated 5th February 1982

Translation of the LCU’s letter to Mr. Saif Al-Nasr Abdul-Jalil dated 5th February 1982

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful


The esteemed Mr. Saif Al-Nasr Abdul-Jalil


Following a long search and enquiries I managed to obtain your address to write to you.

Dear Saif,

I hope that you received the LCU’s booklets, which detailed its aims and political orientation.  I also hope that there will be an opportunity of cooperation between us, and convergence of our ideas to serve our country and fly its flag amongst nations.

I would be delighted and honoured, and so would all members of the Libyan Constitutional Union, if you would cooperate with it to raise the banner of the national struggle together.  For the deep-rooted Saif Al-Nasr family, which is synonymous in Libyan history with defending the country and fighting for the homeland, should be in the forefront every time Libya calls for giving and sacrifice.

I hope that you would also pass a copy of this letter to your brother Mr. Ghaith Abdul-Jalil, whose address I am still trying to obtain.  And that there would be a chance of cooperation with him too, as well as all of your noble family.

Waiting for your reply, please accept the respect and appreciation of the chairman and members of the Libyan Constitutional Union.


Mohamed Abdu Ben Ghalbon



This part was published on  18 November 2006  in the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 









 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (11)

(First published in Arabic on 12th November 2006)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union



Mohammad Ali Arebi


Mohammad Ali Arebi belongs to one of the prominent Berber families and is a distinguished person amongst his people.  He is also a wealthy businessman well known in the western part of Libya.

Mr. Arebi was impressed by the idea of the Libyan Constitutional Union and its proposed solution having read its publications.  He contacted me to arrange a meeting in Rabat where he was permanently domiciled and where he enjoyed a prominent status and high level contacts inside its political circles.

From the first meeting, which took place in 1982, we quickly developed a sort of rapport, where Mr.Arebi told me about the business relationship he had with my late father during the time of the Italian occupation of Libya.  He also told me about his close friendship with my late uncle Mahmood Darbi in Tripoli where he lived until he left Libya.

** * **


I was quite pleased and content when Mr. Arebi voiced his admiration of the Libyan Constitutional Union and me personally.  He promised to aid and support the LCU and provide it with everything in his power to help it achieve its goals.

I thought that I had hit the jackpot in the initial quest to secure the needed support for the activities of the LCU.

** * **


Although Mr. Mohammad Ali Arebi fully grasped the essence upon which the idea of the LCU was built, I felt it was necessary to emphasise to him the necessity and importance of the support of the Berbers to any endeavour that has as its core the restoration of the constitutional legitimacy to the country.

I further explained that the reason which implores the Berbers, in particular, to support and assist the call for the return of the constitutional legitimacy to the homeland lies within the text of the nation’s constitution.

In more specific terms, it was right and absolutely essential that the entire Libyan people -with all its various factions- hold on to the nation’s constitution and fight for its re-establishment, for it vigorously and unconditionally preserved the privileges of all citizens to practice their civil and political rights equally without any ethnic or sectarian discrimination. 

The Libyan constitution provided the legal framework for the nation’s minorities [1] to preserve their ethnicity and freely practice their religious rites.  It served as the supreme guarantee that all Libyan citizens were equal and shared the same rights and duties regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

** * **


I reminded Mr Arebi that those who founded the Libyan state on the eve of independence were very conscious of the need to accommodate the various compositions that constituted the Libyan nation that they decided not to add the word “Arabic” to the country’s name.  The name of the new born state became the “United Kingdom of Libya”.  Then after the Federal System was abolished in 1963 the country’s name became the “Kingdom of Libya”.  That was done at a heavy price as some [2] were mounting pressure on the rulers of the young country to add the title “Arabic” to its name.  To do so the decision makers of that time felt would be unjust to the Libyan minorities who did not descend from Arabic ancestries.

Although the founders of the modern Libyan state were very careful to establish all the necessary guarantees that would insure equality of all citizens before the law, and in-spite of their commendable efforts to enable the minorities within the Libyan society to practice their rights unhindered by bigotry. We find that they naively overlooked an issue that would later have a detrimental effect on their newly established country.

The issue was the tribal composition of the Libyan society and the dual loyalty that represents the crux of the tribe.  More often than not loyalty to the tribe would prevail over the loyalty to the state.  The abuse of power by certain heads of tribes in favouring their tribes over the interest of the state and the rest of its nationals had seriously damaging consequences, which were ultimately utilised by the military junta as a pretext for their wretched Military coup d’état.

This delicate but extremely important topic requires more detailed analysis and can not be discussed in few lines here. In order not to disperse the reader’s attention I therefore consider it appropriate to come back to it at the end of this chapter to examine it in the detail it merits.

** * **


To return to our subject, Mr. Arebi agreed that the Libyan constitution was absolutely fair and just in organising the running of the Libyan state.  He also testified that those who drafted the constitution had fully noted and respected the rights of the minorities, in direct contrast to the present military coup d'état [3].  He told me that from that moment on he would appoint himself as my envoy to approach –on my behalf – our Berber brothers in order to urge them to support and assist the LCU until it realises its aspired goals.

My friendship with Mohammad Ali Arebi grew stronger by the day.  We had regular social meetings and there was nothing on the horizon to predict any change to that.

However, a new and unexpected development took place.  Not long after my newly growing friendship with Mr. Arebi, he disclosed to me that some officials from the US government wished to meet me to talk about the LCU and its orientation and future plans.

Mr. Arebi was surprised when I immediately accepted the offer without hesitation.  My guess was that he probably thought that he would have to engage in a lengthy debate with me to persuade me to go ahead with his offer and came prepared with all the necessary arguments. 

He did not appreciate that I considered gaining the international public opinion, at the level of the governments of the major countries that influence the direction of the global political system, was another essential step to the success of the arduous task of liberating Libya from the grip of the military coup and restoring constitutional legitimacy to the homeland.

If we concede that the importance of the above demand places it on top of the list of priorities of the designed plan to realise the aspired goals, then gaining the USA – the most influential power in the world – on the side of the Libyan people’s legitimate right to regain its constitutional legitimacy, placed the USA on top of the list of countries that should be addressed to achieve this goal.

Mr Arebi wasn’t aware of the greater vision of the LCU which covered all the essential and important focal points that influence the fulfilment of its goals.

** * **


As such, Mr. Arebi arranged the meeting with US Government officials, which eventually arrived at a dead end.  I have previously published lengthy details of these meetings in the London based Arabic daily “Al-Hayat”.  In order not to depart from our main topic I enclose a link to this article [4].

Sadly, Mr. Mohamed Ali Arebi cut off all his contacts with me following the collapse of my talks with the American officials.  He repeatedly avoided talking to me and evaded my attempts to contact him.

With the termination of that short lived friendship upon which I had very high hopes, all of Mr. Arebi’s promises to secure the support of the Berber people to the LCU’s cause were blown away in the wind, as were his promises to financially support the activities of the Libyan Constitutional Union.

** * **


The effect of the abuse of tribal power in Libyan political life :

In what follows I will introduce a full explanation to the background of the influence of the tribal mindset and how this reflects on the participation of its members in the political process within the state that accommodates them and their tribe.

The need to explain this background is so essential that it can not be ignored or overlooked; it will enable the reader to make sense of the motives behind the stances taken by some of the personalities mentioned in this documentary article.

I will introduce an explanation of the composition of the tribal structure, the principles that govern it, and the relation between its members and the state they belong to.  I will give examples from contemporary events, wherever the need arises, in the hope that this will prove the accuracy of this analysis.

** * **


The Tribe and the principles that Govern it :

The tribe is considered one of the primary organised groupings known in the whole history of mankind.  Over all his consecutive epochs man never knew a social form of clannishness that accommodated him and others of his race within its bounds as the tribal structure.  The tribe was born out of man’s persistent need for it.  Man’s struggle for survival with rivals from his race forced him to consolidate his position with his kindred

Human history witnessed the first elements of groups of people sharing the same blood as they attempted to create associated groups that have common aims and benefits.  Groups of blood relations would fight together to defend their interests against rival groupings.  Throughout history clans evolved into tribes to become, with the passage of time, the nucleus and essential basis of the nationalistic structure of the various modern human societies.

Not a single part of the world throughout human history was an exception to the existence of the tribal system within it.  All human societies have known and experienced the tribal structure under the necessity for power to preserve its common interests with its blood kin.

However, in later centuries of the human voyage, and as a response to human development and man’s incessant aspiration to improve his living conditions and standards, the tribal structure began to disintegrate in many societies across the globe to give way to entities of civil and urban societies which co-existed within one state under the umbrella of modern and comprehensive laws which regulated the relations between these individuals and guaranteed the rights of all its citizens without prejudice or discrimination.

However, some tribal structures still exist, especially in the Arab world where they continue to maintain this primitive mould which shaped it thousands of years ago.  These structures defied the need to integrate or dissolve into the state that accommodated them within the general framework of society as a whole.  It favoured its instinctive narrow outlook of protecting its own interest more than its loyalty and belonging to the general society of the state

There are principles and codes of conduct that govern the infrastructure of the tribe in its primitive form, which in turn control its behaviour.  These could be summarised as follows:


  •    The interest of the individual member of the tribe is the interest of the entire tribe, as long as it does not contradict the interests of other individuals within the same tribe.


  •   The interest of the tribe is focused on striving to achieve the interests of its individual members, which is one of the most important aims motivating the tribe.


  •   The protection of the interests of the tribe and defending its sanctity and property are the primary aims in the mindset that motivates tribal sentiments.


  •   The blind obedience and following of orders given by Sheikhs and tribal leaders are amongst the most important characteristics of each individual belonging to a tribe, and they constitute a conviction set in their conscious that they never depart from.


** * **


When these principles are implemented on the ground inside the comprehensive structure of the state, it would - at some point - inevitably clash with the laws that synchronize the relations between its citizens.

The political leaders of the monarchist era were oblivious to the dangers of these fundamental factors.  They failed to embark on a serious process to politicise the tribe and modernise it so that it could amalgamate its aims within the framework of the general interest of the state that accommodates it along with other different groups and denominations, in coherence and harmony which would achieve the common benefit to society as a whole with its various members, clans, tribes and ethnic and religious minorities.  Thus enabling everybody to endeavour to achieve the best for the country that they all belong to rather than to achieve the interests of their particular tribe or ethnic minority at the expense of the prime aim of the welfare of all citizens of that country as a whole.

Instead, they left the tribal structure unchecked to gain control over some aspects of the political decision making in the newly born state.

The gravity of this inherited error led to intensifying the gulf that existed between the citizens and the state on the one hand, and on the other, turned some powerful tribes into power centers that defied the authority of the state and would consequently defeat it whenever they clashed.  We could perhaps find this clear in the following two brief examples:

  1. One tribe forced out one of its members from a court of law while he was being tried on charges of issuing orders to fire live ammunition on protesting students during the well-known student events of January 1964, which led to several fatalities.


  1. 2.  Massive crowds from certain tribes picketed in front of the royal court to prevent the King from resigning and forced him to withdraw his proposal to change the form of rule from Monarchist to Republican during the sixties.

** * **


Accordingly, one could easily attribute most of the monarchy’s shortcomings to the tribal domination over the reigns of power.  However, this would be only a fraction of the truth.  Looking at the wider picture, the tribal domination over the reigns of power during the monarchy had another reason behind it, which was totally overlooked by all.  The heart of the problem lies in the tribe’s primitive structure, which is built around ideals that do not meet the terms of the spirit of the time in which the modern state was created.

In other words, those tenets, which stem from pure clannishness, are in fact what were responsible for the insolence of some of the tribes’ idiosyncratic behaviour.  Some tribes would refuse to abide by the laws of the state and would continually defy its dictates which regulate the relations of its people whom the tribe is merely a segment of. 

** * **


Therefore, politicising the tribal structure through education of its members and cultivating amongst them the concept of loyalty to the homeland as an indivisible integrated entity was a vital necessity in a society where some of its sections were still guided by a tribal mentality fit for dwellers of the first millennium.  The outcome would be eliminating their chauvinism and bias towards their tribes at the expense of the rights and interests of the rest of society.  The hope would also be that it would generate and deepen in them a sense of belonging to the homeland as a single unit rather than to the clan, tribe or ethnic minority.  This would lead to accomplishing the sovereignty of the state over all its various compositions, and consequently to the equality of all its citizens before its law regardless of the diversity of their tribal origin or ethnicity.

However, the reality, as we all know it, was during the monarchy era tribal bigotry dominated certain aspects of the political decision making process.  This bred a chronic gulf in the relation between the ordinary citizen and the state.  Ultimately the negative consequences of this led to the failure of the state to dictate its authority to efficiently enforce law and order.

Later on, the illegitimate rule of the military coup of September 1969 utilised this very same tribal bigotry to achieve its malignant designs. 

Nevertheless, it has to be noted that the tribe is considered an important establishment within the fibre of Libyan society.  Tribes form the major component the country’s population.

It is therefore, absolutely imperative that it is developed through acculturation and politicising of its members to give precedence to the belonging and loyalty to the homeland ahead of loyalty and belonging to the tribe, to eliminate the dual loyalty which most individuals of the tribal structure suffer from.

** * **


Tribal bigotry could be the motive behind Haj Mohammad El-Saifaat’s un-compromising stance towards the LCU.  Not only did it stop him from supporting and aiding it, but it made him an active enemy who fought and resisted it from the day it was announced.  This was due to the fact that the LCU’s initiative came from a person from amongst the urban populace, and did not originate from within the tribal structure which had been at the forefront of the struggle against foreign occupation of the country, and consequently, later ruled the country, in the post-independence period, by rallying around the person of the King.

In order to give credence to this assertion, I will narrate, in what follows, certain relevant incidents and events. 

** * **


Former Prime minister Hussein Maziq (may Allah bestow His mercy on him), who was the head of the Barassa tribe and one of the main pillars of the monarchy regime had come to know about Haj Mohammad El-Saifat’s hostile stance and activities towards the LCU.  This enmity puzzled Mr. Maziq, for he knew that the main orientation of the LCU was based on the call for the return of constitutional legitimacy to the country through its unity around its representative King Idris Sennusi.  He was bewildered because Haj Mohammad El-Saifat was considered one of the most prominent personalities of the Barassa tribe, which was once one of the pillars of King Idris Sennusi’s system of rule.  Therefore it was not rational for El-Saifat to engage in this hostile act towards the LCU whose main ideas were based on what El-Saifaat and his tribe should stand for.

In order to clarify the mystery surrounding this perplexing situation, Mr. Hussein Maziq sent a personal envoy on a fact finding mission with a set of specific questions to Haj Mohammad Elsaifat. 

Firstly, he wanted to hear Haj El-Saifaat’s reasons for this questionable stance in this regard.  For as things stood two conjectures were advanced as to explain Haj El-Saifaat’s hostile behaviour toward the LCU and his slandering of its founder Mohammed Ben Ghalbon.  The first was that Haj El-Saifaat took this stand because he knew that the King did not bless the establishment of the LCU as Ben Ghalbon alleges.  The second conjecture was that the LCU founder did not follow the proper protocol when he contacted and informed Haj El-Saifaat about the establishment of the referred to entity.  Or perhaps he failed to grant Haj El-Saifaat his due recognition and respect merited by his prominent position and distinguished status.  This could have caused Haj El-Saifaat to feel aggrieved and bitter and led him to adopt the aforesaid stance vis-à-vis the LCU and its founder, Mohammed Ben Ghalbon.

If the first conjecture was true and Ben Ghalbon’s claim was irrefutably proved to be false, then Haj El-Saifaat should neither be rebuked nor blamed.  Or if it could be proved that Ben Ghalbon acted disrespectfully towards Haj El-Saifaat when he informed him of the establishment of the LCU, then the Ben Ghalbon family - which had strong ties with the questioner (Hussein Maziq) - would be contacted so that he (Mohamed Ben Ghalbon) could be rebuked and would be made to apologise to Haj El-Saifaat for any wrong that he might have committed against him.

** * **


Hussein Maziq’s messenger brought back to him Haj El-Saifaat’s answers to his questions.  These answers indicated that the King had indeed blessed and encouraged the establishment of the LCU, and that Ben Ghalbon’s conduct, in dealing with haj El-Saifaat, was proper and his behaviour was in accordance with the standard rules and the accepted etiquette. 

Haj El-Saifaat was found to have adopted his hostile stance vis-à-vis the LCU and its founder, Mohammed Ben Ghalbon simply because it was one of the townspeople, who came up with the idea that not only encompassed the seeds of the solution to the complicated Libyan case, but it would also disgrace the tribesmen, who ruled in the name of the King during the monarchy era and have now turned their backs on this commendable approach.  It would also add to their feeling of bitterness as a result of their failure to initiate this enlightened idea before Mohammed Ben Ghalbon.

Therefore, it was imperative –“for their own interest”- that the LCU should be fought and made to fail so that it would not be a disgrace and a stigma testifying to the shortcomings of the tribal people in this regard.  On the other hand there is nothing that would prevent any one from their midst from reformulating the above mentioned idea in the future.

** * **


The truth of the matter in all its ugliness became apparent to Mr Hussein Maziq, who blamed Haj El-Saifaat for this unjust stance and demanded he cease his hostile acts against the activities of the LCU and its founder Mohammed Ben Ghalbon, if he (El-Saifaat) could not bring himself to join, help and support him.  Mr Hussein Maziq asked his messenger to inform me of all the details of what had happened.  I have communicated all the details of this episode to the reader to show the effect of the tribal bigotry in advancing the interest of the tribe at the expense of the interest of the homeland. 

Moreover, Mr Hussein Maziq instructed his messenger to relay to me from him a single phrase: “Forgive us!”


** * **


To conclude, I find it necessary to mention a statement I heard from a member of the exiled Libyan national opposition movement regarding Haj El-Saifaat’s stance vis-à-vis the LCU and its founder, which Haj El-Saifaat did not hide from many of his conversation partners.  I am relating this episode to further give my above assertions their rightful credibility.

Mr Saleh Jaouda related to me, in the presence of Mahmoud Shammam, Muftah Attayar and Mohammed Derby, that he had asked Haj El-Saifaat about the reason behind his hostility and enmity toward Mohammed Ben Ghalbon, and whether the reason for this enmity could be traced back to Ben Ghalbon’s political orientation as manifested in his establishment of the LCU; or could it be due to personal hatred toward Ben Ghalbon due of him not observing the proper etiquette when dealing with him. 

Haj Elsaifat answered him by saying that there was nothing wrong with the core idea of the LCU. He added that in his dealings with me I had acted in a proper and rightful manner and that I had never wronged him.  Further, Haj El-Saifaat continued by saying that had this idea originated from one of the significant Libyan personalities or a member of one of the known families –“like yours (Jaouda’s)”- he would not have bee bothered by the matter, but coming from Ben Ghalbon was for him absolutely “unbearable”.


To be continued…..

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

2 December 2006


 [1] There are in Libya a number of minority groups. In addition to the Berber, considered to be one of the oldest ethnic groups that lived in Libya, there are people whose ancestors emigrated from Crete as well as the Jews who emigrated during the 1967 war.

 [2] One of the most apparent pressures exerted on the Libyan government at that time was from Gamal Abdul-Nasser media. This media was intoxicated with the revival of the Arab nationalism whose effect on the enthusiastic and emotional Libyan youth was mesmerising.  However, the contemporary history showed them its failure and defeat in facing its western counterparts.

[3] One example in this respect, the reader is reminded of the military regime’s repressive and suppressive practice against the Libyan Berbers when it denied them their legitimate rights as citizens to give their children Berber names and imposed on them Arab ones. 

 [4] The following is the Link to the article published in the Al-Hayat newspaper:



This part was published on  2 December 2006  in the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home" , "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 









 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (12)

(First published in Arabic on 26 November 2006)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union



Dr. Mohammad Yousef Al-Megariaf


One of the easiest tasks one could be entrusted with is to introduce a well known personality to a society where everyone is familiar with this personality’s characteristics.

Dr. Mohammad Yousef Al-Megariaf falls into this category.  When introducing him one needs no more than to mention his name.  I do not believe that there is a single Libyan who is or who has been following the activities on the Libyan political scene and the performance of the various Libyan opposition movements during the period of the early eighties and most of the nineties, who does not know of Dr. Al-Megariaf.  As such, I consider myself fortunate in this respect, for his wide spread reputation relieved me from having to list this distinguished personalities’ numerous attributes.


** * **


I documented in the previous chapters of this article, the responses of some of the distinguished Libyan personalities who could be counted among the “wise and influential” in the Libyan society, to the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union.  I will now address the stances of other Libyan personalities who were active within the various Libyan opposition movements in exile, in addition to some of those who raised the banner of opposition to the military regime in Libya as independents. 

I will begin with addressing the stance of Dr. Mohammad Yousef Al-Megariaf, the former Secretary General of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL).


** * ** 


Shortly after announcing the establishment of the LCU, towards the end of 1981, Dr. Megariaf visited me in my home in Manchester accompanied by Mr. Ashour Al-Shamis.

As soon as we finished the initial protocols of personal hospitality and chatting about current affairs over dinner, Dr. Megariaf embarked on the core of the subject matter that prompted him to initially contact and consequently visit me.

Dr. Megariaf told me that he was impressed by the core idea of the LCU which was announced a few weeks previously.  However, the current complex international political climate dictated – as a necessity – the formation of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya.  The emergence of the NFSL on the arena of the Libyan national struggle left no room for any other organisation with competing agendas or ideology.

Therefore, his visit to me was to propose an offer that revolved around the suggestion that I dissolve the LCU and merge its members – as individuals representing themselves – in the NFSL, which would later adopt the principle of restoring the constitutional legitimacy to the homeland.  This would be more appropriate to the NFSL’s structure, its means and capacity to achieve its goal.  The issue of rallying around the king, however, had to be abandoned, for he deemed it barren and a hindrance in the path of the struggle to bring down the military regime ruling Libya.

Dr. Megariaf continued his explanation of his suggestion by saying that the disbandment of the LCU, and its members joining the NFSL would be – without any doubt – the right step to take for several reasons which could be summarised in the following three points:


1-  The current international climate which was influenced by the great powers, who hold sway on the course of events in the region and are capable of providing the resources for political change on the global map, dictates that a single Libyan organisation operate in the arena of opposing the ruling regime in Libya.  This organisation should encompass under its umbrella all active members of the Libyan opposition in exile.  This was in fact what the super powers have effectively expressed by blessing and backing the establishment of the NFSL, and have promised it ultimate success. 

2-  The existence of rival Libyan opposition groups or organisations, which could draw potency from the strength of their ideas, their sound strategies, the numerical advantage of their membership or superior financial resources, would be upsetting and disbursing to the efforts of the Libyan opposition.  The political reality made it inevitable for them to amalgamate into the NFSL which enjoyed the blessing and backing of the International superpowers to topple the ruling regime in Libya.

3-  The existence of Libyan opposition currents rivalling the NFSL could disturb the endeavours of the NFSL for a short while, but it would not – no matter how far they went – alter the inevitable outcome of the NFSL achieving its goal of toppling the ruling regime in Libya.  Accordingly, common sense dictates that those in charge of these organisations save their energies and efforts to achieve an end which has already been determined in favour of the NFSL.


** * **


I responded to Dr Megariaf’s proposal by relaying to him the following 4 points:


1-  If the LCU’s idea had attracted him to the extent that he intended to adopt its crux of restoring constitutional legitimacy, then the disbandment of the LCU and the merger of its founders and membership in the NFSL, in my view, would not be so significant to merit his imposing it as a pre-condition for co-operation between us.


2-  If he and the NFSL went ahead and adopted the principle of calling for the restoration of the constitutional legitimacy to the homeland, there would then be no harm caused by the existence or - indeed absence - of the LCU in the arena.  For the LCU would not act as a stumbling block in the way of any of the Libyan opposition forces wishing to adopt this principle. 

In other words, the LCU does not have a monopoly on the idea upon which it shaped its strategy in confronting the military dictatorship in Libya.  And there is no law that would prevent anybody from adopting a particular political principle simply because it has been conceived by a different entity.


3-  In case the NFSL went ahead with adopting the principle of reverting to the constitutional legitimacy, the founders and membership of the LCU would be faced with one of two options:


a-     To disband the LCU and join the NFSL –for those who wish to do so – as individuals. Or

b-     To continue with their small entity in the shadow of the NFSL, which is more equipped and able.  The NFSL would inevitably prevail in its quest, especially when taking into consideration those international promises which Dr. Megariaf kept referring to.


4-  If Dr. Megariaf was of the firm conviction of the futility of the role of King Idris (God bless his soul) - who is the epitome of the constitutional legitimacy - then why did he visit him in the period leading to the announcement of the establishment of the NFSL and ask him to hand over to him what the Libyan people entrusted him with - “the Amaanah


** * **


In order to clarify this incident (Dr.Megariaf’s visit to the King) I will disclose to the readers a full account of the details of that visit as I learnt them from the original source.

The said visit took place in the period that shortly preceded the announcement of the establishment of the NFSL.  Dr. Megariaf paid King Idris a visit accompanied by Haj. Mohammad El-Saifaat who arranged it with the pretext that he (Dr. Megariaf) sought the holy man’s “Barakah” and prayers.

However, Dr. Megariaf did not observe the agreed confines of the visit.  He surprised the King by asking him to concede to him the “Amaanah” (trust) that the Libyan people entrusted him with, now that he has reached this advanced age and to allow the Libyan youth to carry it from then on.  In order to bolster his position Dr. Megariaf mentioned that he enjoyed the blessing of the USA.

The King was not only annoyed by Dr. Megariaf’s speech, but his anger was also directed at Haj. Mohammad El-Saifaat as he was clearly not surprised by his companion’s speech to the King, which was in total contrast to the pretext he presented to secure that visit.

The King realised at that moment that Dr. Megariaf and Haj. El-Saifaat had a premeditated diverse agenda inconsistent with the reason given to him for that visit.  He asked them to leave immediately.


** * **


Dr. Megariaf was visibly taken aback by what I relayed to him.  He discovered for the first time that I knew of his “secret” visit to King Idris and his quest to have him concede his legal legitimacy to rule Libya in favour of the NFSL.  He jumped from his seat looking very cross.  At that moment, and before he could utter a single word, Ashour Shamis turned his face towards where Dr. Megariaf was now standing, bemused and unable to hide his shock.

I realised then that Mr. Sahamis was hearing about this matter for the first time, which implied that Dr. Megariaf kept it within the very inner circle of the entity of the NFSL.

Dr. Megariaf said in a trembling voice saturated with anger that he did in fact visit King Idris and Queen Fatima merely out of respect to them and in consideration of their old age in the exile imposed on them by the Gaddafi regime.  He found them “a couple of old senile folk believing that Libya was a plantation they inherited, with its peasants, from their ancestors.”  At that point I noticed the relief on Ashour Shamis’s face.

Dr. Megariaf continued by saying that he had no other purpose for that visit, especially the ones I had mentioned earlier.  He continued by saying that the super powers had abandoned King Idris and they did not want him to continue ruling Libya.  Had there been an international desire for his reign to continue they would not have allowed the military to usurp power in Libya.  They, in the NFSL, respected the will of the super powers in this regard.  On the other hand, the NFSL did not need an aging King to accomplish the aspirations of the Libyan people to be freed from the grip of Gaddafi’s regime.  Especially as they (the NFSL) had American promises to topple Gaddafi’s regime.  These promises were not tied to the restoration of a deposed monarchist regime, nor to the use of the principle of restoring constitutional legitimacy to the country.  Hence there was nothing the NFSL would gain from asking the King to concede his legitimacy to its solid plan for the struggle.

I commented Dr. Megariaf was entitled to justify that visit in any way he sees fit, or to list any excuses about the real reasons behind it.  However, as far as I was concerned, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt its exact details which I learnt from the original source.  He was also absolutely entitled to take whatever stand from the King – based on the wishes of the USA.  I added that I too had the right to take the stand that would serve my country with honour and take into consideration the status and esteem of King Idris.


** * **


As such I became fully appreciative of the famous verse of the poet “Tarfa Ibnul-Abd”:

I was abandoned by all my people * * *I was discarded like a quarantined camel.

Following that visit which outraged Dr. Megariaf and his companion and made them storm out of my house in deep anger, I noticed a change in my relationship with many of my friends who joined the ranks of the NFSL, as well as those who became convinced that it was the inevitable future replacement of the Gaddafi regime.

A cruel and discreet process of isolation and boycott was instigated against my family and myself.  It was most noticeable on occasions of bereavement when usually acrimonies, grudges and even hatred fade away from the hearts, and sound people would be quick to console and comfort the relatives of the deceased for the loss of their loved ones.

Death, with its undisputed prerogative, has chosen several pillars of my family who lived in the old town of Benghazi during the eighties.  It was a very disappointing experience not to receive the customary and expected condolences from my fellow countrymen.  To recall but a few examples merely to make the point, I received literally five phone calls of condolences when my maternal uncle Lameen Darbi passed a way.  A similar number, if not less, was the total number of the phone calls I received when my father- in - law Haj. Mustafa Emnena died.

The funeral of my uncle Mahmood Ben Ghalbon in Manchester was attended by merely four Libyans.  The rest of the congregation was made up of our numerous Pakistani friends.


** * **


This boycott and isolation did not end until the NFSL failed to deliver its promises to its members and sympathisers, which led to the exodus of scores of them from it.  Many of my old friends and acquaintances renewed their relationships with me.  The doors of my house (which I never closed) were once again wide open to the visitors who had forsaken it as a result of my stance which incurred the wrath of the NFSL against me.

The funeral of my younger brother Ali, who passed away in Manchester in 1994 was attended by masses of Libyans who came from far and wide.


To be continued…..

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

15 December 2006



This part was published on  15  December 2006  in the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home"  ,  "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 








 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Part (13)

(First published in Arabic on 27 January 2007)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union



Rashaad Basheer Al-Hooni:


Rashaad Al-Hooni is very well known to many Libyans, particularly in intellectual circles.  His distinguished literary contributions had a profound impact on his contemporary readers, who followed his work in the Libyan press.

In fact, had it not been for the limited circulation and lack of distribution of Libyan newspapers in the Arab world, a good number of distinguished Libyan writers would have come to prominence alongside the literary giants of the Arab press and media, with Rashaad Al-Hooni undoubtedly being among the top names.

Rashaad was a poet and an accomplished essayist who excelled as a columnist in the field of written journalism. 

However, his most outstanding contribution which –to me- would celebrate him most as one of the pioneers of propagating cultural and political awareness in Libyan society in the country’s modern history would be his role -alongside his brother Mohamed- in establishing the “Al-Haqiqa” newspaper in 1964.  Rashaad became editor in chief of the paper from its launch until it was closed in 1973 by orders of the military coup.

Under Rashaad’s entrepreneurial, pioneering vision and guidance Al-Haqiqa played a crucial role in enlightening the readers of their country’s vital affairs.  The paper also fostered a whole new generation of brilliant writers whose bright ideas formed a fine institution of Journalism in Libya, which nourished the minds of the youth searching for cultural identity in the early days of the formation of the modern Libyan state.  At that time, the country as a whole was feeling its way towards comprehensive development with its social, political and economical dimensions.  Renowned names such as Sadiq Al-Naihum and Khalifa El-Fakhri are two cases in point.


** * **


During my campaign to contact prominent Libyan notables to inform them of the idea of the Libyan Constitutional Union (immediately following its establishment) to invite them to join our endeavours to re-establish constitutional legitimacy to Libya, I contacted Rashaad Al-Hooni with whom I had a friendly relationship to arrange a meeting.

He received me at his home in the English town of Kingston-upon-Thames.  After a brief and cordial chat about Libya and old times I presented to him details of the idea upon which the LCU revolved and expressed to him my sincere hope that he could join us, or at least lend a hand to aid our efforts.

Having absorbed all aspects of the core idea of the restoration of the constitutional legitimacy to Libya, Rashaad disclosed to me that it was an impeccable idea to have as a basis for resolving the predicament of our beleaguered country. 

He added that his love and devotion to the homeland was second to none.  However, the bitter experience which he had endured when he was totally abandoned by his friends as well as the public at large during his ordeal when - following the coup d'état of September 1969 he was twice jailed and put on trial before military courts that lacked legitimacy and qualification, for crimes he did not commit - had left permanent and painful scars on him.

He went on to say that there was no force in the universe that would be able to extract the love of Libya from his heart and which pulsated through his veins ever since his mind fully comprehended the true meanings of the intellectual and compassionate values.  However, equally there was no force capable of convincing him to join any political activity after his personal experience taught him that the Libyan people did not yet absorb the needed awareness to prompt them to defend the rights of the individual when he is subjected to the injustices of the ruling authority.

In other words, he was saying that that there was not enough vigilance in Libya which would prompt members of the society to act in solidarity with the individual from amongst them when his legitimate, individual rights are being violated, or when he is subjected to oppression by the ruling authority.  Libyan society was still lacking the comprehensive recognition of the concept of solidarity, symbiosis, teamwork, collective bondage and community of interests in order to defend the rights of its various members, groups or factions when they face the brutality of the oppressive rulers. 

Naturally the absence of this awareness led to society losing one of its most important fundamental features to preserve and protect the rights and freedom of its members.  For collective awareness of the individual’s rights is a necessity they can ill afford to do without.  It is the living conscience buried deep inside them that guides them to protect their legitimate rights towards the deviated policies of ruling authority within the country they live in.

More specifically, in the absence of the necessary awareness, members of society did not only lose their own individual means that would alert them to the threat when the ruling authority violates their lawful rights, but they also lost their chance of developing the effective means to deter the deviated authority and force it to respect their rights, which could even lead to toppling this deviated authority from power if necessity dictated.

The conclusion here, was that such comprehensive conscious awareness would affirm in members of society the simple yet vital fact that infringing on the rights of an individual member of society constitutes a violation of the rights of society as a whole.  For there silence is a kin to them conceding their collective privilege to practice their political rights, and voluntarily compromising their entitlement of expressing their views regarding their personal lives.

On the other hand, it was tantamount to handing over to the ruling authority a licence to repeat its deviation and hence encourage it to get carried away in its wrongdoings.


** * **


In his elaborate analysis which I summarised above, Rashaad was advocating the absolute necessity to create sufficient awareness among members of Libyan society before embarking on any confrontation with the tyrannical ruling military regime. 

He foresaw failure as the inevitable outcome of any opposing political activity, as a result of the apathy they would be received with by the majority of the Libyan society which lack the necessary awareness that would in fact be the vital device to generate the collective refusal of the repressive authority [2].


** * **


Rashaad disclosed to me that as such he would never participate in any political opposition activity.  This was a stand he took towards all Libyan opposition organisations active in exile.

He then added that if ever he chose to join any opposition group it would have to have one of two goals, if not both.  The first is that its main objective should be focused on the restoration of constitutional legitimacy.  The second is that its principles should take into consideration the high esteemed position of King Idris.  And the two are the main pillars of the LCU.


** * **


Rashaad clarified his position by saying that the reasons that shaped his above conviction were born out of two factors; the first was his deep belief that the aspired solution for the return –and stability- of normal political life in Libya is tied to the return of the constitutional legitimacy to what it was before the arrival of the military coup, for it is the guarantee that would insure the citizen’s safety in practicing his constitutional rights against the ruling authority’s potential atrocity. 

The second emanated from his absolute belief in rallying around the person of the king, and to hold on to him as a symbol to lead Libya.  This was not just because he was the embodiment of this constitutional legitimacy.  There were also personal reasons that motivated Rashaad to hold King Idris and the Senussi movement in high esteem and be loyal and faithful to him.  Those sentiments were passed on to him by his late father from childhood and throughout the various stages of his upbringing.

His father, Mr. Basheer Al-Hooni was one of the Senussi brotherhood who grew up within the movement having experienced its noble and tolerant goals, which was focused on teaching its followers the directives of Islam and motivating them to adhere to them, as well as advocated fighting against foreign occupation of the land.

He added that he was raised in a purely Senussi home which prompted his father to name all his sons after members of the Senussi family whom he revered and loved very dearly.  His elder brother Mohamed was named after the founder of the movement (the Grand Senussi), his other brother was named Idris, the youngest El-Senussi.

He paused for a short while and added that I shouldn’t think that his own name was outside this constellation.  Rashaad was the name given to a brother of King Idris who died immediately after birth.

It must be recalled here that Rashaad had in fact made a similar statement, which revealed his love and devotion to King Idris and the Senussi movement, during his trial before what was falsely called “the people’s court”, which the coup d'état junta held following their gaining power in 1969.


** * **


This way, Rashaad expressed to me his profound conviction of the correctness of the course of the LCU, but at the same time declined joining its ranks – or, for that matter, the ranks of any other opposition group, as a result of his bitter experience which coloured his scope of the national case in all its dimensions.

My friendship with Rashaad continued until his death in the early nineties.  May God almighty have mercy on his soul and make paradise his final abode.  He truly was a literary knight who was dedicated to making a difference.  He had a level of magnanimity that preceded him every where he went.


To be continued

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

23 February 2007

[1] In an article dedicated to Sadiq El-Naihum, the Libyan writer Abuzaid El-Hilali covered key features of Rashaad’s character and life.  It was published on “Libya Our Home”:  ( )

[2] Rashaad was undoubtedly influenced by his own experience, where he diligently and sincerely gave all to the homeland when he established “Al-Haqiqa” newspaper and developed it – against all odds - to become an intellectual lighthouse to an entire generation of readers, by making it a free tribune to raise awareness through the patriotism and creativity of its distinguished writers.

His leadership of “Al-Haqiqa” was never an easy task.  He was faced with severe storms which nearly brought his efforts to an end.  This was the result of his daring and non-compromising positions which he adopted for his paper from the day it was established until the day it was closed by an oppressive decree from the leadership of the military coup d'état

His shock was compounded when the military regime - in the start of a long and sinister policy to curtail free speech and criminalise freedom of expression in the country - closed his paper and put him on trial amid total passiveness and indifference from his staff in the newspaper, the readers in general and the abandonment of his friends.



This part was published on    24 February 2007  in the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home"   ,   "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 







Part (14)

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

(First published in Arabic on 1 March 2007)


[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union



Ahmad Langhi:

My friendship with Ahmad Langhi went back to when we were youths in our home town of Benghazi.  It was, therefore, only natural that I was quick to visit him in his home in London - where he chose to live in exile - to present to him the idea and aims of the Libyan Constitutional Union and invite him to join its ranks.

The narrative of my visit to Ahmad Langhi was a repeat of that in which I approached friends to inform them of the establishment of the LCU and discuss the possibility of their joining it or offering their support to its efforts.  Ahmad Langhi listened tentatively to my presentation, and immediately expressed his admiration of the crux of the idea of the LCU and its ultimate goals.  However, he apologised for his inability to take part in its proposed activities.


** * **

Ahmad Langhi elaborated that he was unable to join the LCU because he was fully occupied in promoting the Khaliliya [1] order (tariqa) to which he belonged and the spreading of its message amongst the Libyan community in Britain and other country’s were Libyans were in exile; a task that required all his time and energy.

He added that he had no intention of being linked to any political orientation of the Libyan opposition groups in exile.  This was due to the fact that the nature of the path which he adopted through the Khaliliya order was purely religious and spiritual, and has no association with the political inclinations of the Libyan opposition groups.  He preferred to stay away from such activities in order not to subject himself or his collegues to the dangers of confrontation with the ruling regime in Libya.

He concluded that his belief in the soundness of the idea and direction of the LCU, as well as his genuine love of king Idris, which he derived from his grandfather Yusuf Langhi [2], obligated him – as a national duty - to provide financial aid from his own funds to support the efforts of the LCU to achieve its aims; and that was the least he could do.

Although I had hoped that this prominent friend would join us in the LCU to enhance it through his wide connections, I took on board his reasons and his commitment towards advancing the Khaliliya order.

Furthermore, I was pleased with his promise to contribute to financing the LCU from his own purse, as well as attempting to raise funds from his affluent contacts.


** * **

In a repeat of what had happened with other Libyan personalities, who I have mentioned in previous parts of this article, all Ahmad Langhi’s promises to provide and raise funds for the LCU never materialised.


** * ** 

Not long after, I came to know of the real reason behind Ahmad Langhi’s breaking of his promise to me.  It was his concern that financial support to the LCU’s endeavour would ultimately lead to the revival of the Sennusiya movement which would put it back in a position of rivalry with the Khaliliya order, a contest - in his view - that would definitely not be favourable to his order.  In other words, Ahmad Langhi and the followers of the Khaliliya order saw the call for King Idris as a symbol of constitutional legitimacy as one face of the coin;  the other being the revival of the Sennusiya movement to resume its activities in Libya. This would hinder the fortunes of any other religious movement active in the same field.  Subsequently, in their calculations, this would hamper the ambitions of their group and eventually paralyse it if the LCU succeeded in realising its goals.

Any observer with knowledge of Libyan history would immediately notice the flaw and naivety of such perception, which guided the thinking of Ahmad Langhi and his superiors in the Khaliliyah order such as Sheikh Habib El-Saabri and Major Ahmad Bin-Halim[3] in this regard and shaped their attitude towards me.

Ahmad Langhi and his associates in the Khaliliya order used all means available to them to steer me away from initiating my plans to activate the LCU.  They used the carrot and stick technique in dealing with me.  Sheikh Habib El-Saabri took the lenient and inducement approach, while Major Ahmad Bin-Halim adopted the threatening and intimidating side of it.

Sheikh Habib El-Saabri promised me the highest spiritual statuses in their Sufi order, where I would be made the head of their branch in the UK as soon as I joined their ranks, while Major Ahmad Bin-Halim let loose a barrage of fiery threats, and made clear that only my immediate joining of their order and the cessation of any other activity would spare me his wrath!

The matter did not end here, rather it went further until I became a subject of scorn in their gatherings during the time when Ahmad Langhi was head of the order in London and continued to the period when Wanis El-Tajouri succeeded him following the former’s move to Egypt.  It then turned into slander and personal attacks on my character during the time of its current head Salem Badr.


** * ** 

It is worth listing the facts that repudiate the above short-sighted vision of the Khaliliya hierarchy and prove it false so that my views would not depart from the objectivity which I have adhered to and made my guide since I started recording this documentary article.

The facts I am about to introduce would be intertwined and overlap with another stand adopted by another group; the “Muslim Brotherhood” in similar circumstances in this context, which I will deal with in the next part of this article when I discuss Haj. Abdallah Busenn.

1-   The Sennusiya Movement is different both in essence and aims from most other religious movements and organisations that were prevalent in the Arab world.  Notwithstanding the limited similarities it shared with fundamental liberation movements which existed in the Arab world in the nineteenth century such as the Wahabiya movement in the Arab peninsula and the Mehdiya movement in the Sudan, which both aspired to a return to Islamic roots, worked to unify the feuding tribes and mobilising the people to fight against colonisation.  When looking closely at the conduct of the Sennusiya movement, the careful observer would soon notice that it varied from that of almost all the religious movements that were prominent in the Arab world over the past two centuries.  In the sense that it revolved around and aimed for enlightening the Libyan populace and teaching them the true basis of their religion to help them establish a strong and civilised society governed by the fundamentals of the noble Islamic principles.  Without aiming to gain a controlling role in the future state, notwithstanding the movement’s pioneering role in leading the struggle against the occupation forces.

2-           The Senussiya movement had fully accomplished its goals of enlightening the Libyan population and raising their awareness of the fundamentals of their religion in the period from its establishment by Sayyid Mohammad Ibn-Ali El-Sennusi towards the end of the nineteenth century until the Italian invasion in 1911.  As a result of its efforts its followers were quick to rally around the banner of resistance to the occupying forces.

It was not possible for the Sennusiya movement to achieve that consensus around its ideals without first its success in spreading the religious consciousness among many in the Libyan society. This achievement took place under the guidance and the supervision of its founder and his off-springs who succeeded him for many decades.

By virtue of these efforts, it was possible to successfully counteract the distorting effects that marked the final years of the Turkish reign, which led to the misrepresentation of the pure and genuine concepts of Islam in the Libyan society.

3-   The role of the Sennusi Movement gradually diminished after the struggle of the Libyan people, was crowned by gaining independence. This was the wish of the late King Idris, who, after becoming the ruler of the country in 1951, saw the necessity of this curtailment for the following two reasons:

There was no longer a need for the existence of the Sennusiya movement [4] that led the resistance, after Libya had gained its independence and its society had evolved into the modern state with its institution and legislations taking care of all the needs of its inhabitants and its various structures.

After independence, the responsibility of raising and supervising the religious consciousness among the people had become one of the functions of the new state through its specialised organisations (Religious Endowments Administration, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Information).

One can only appreciate very highly the role played by King Idris (Allah bless his soul), his farsightedness and his political acumen in not creating a role for the Sennusiya movement within the Libyan state after independence. 

That might have been the reason behind the Sennusiya movement neither becoming an elitist group nor a political party favoured with influence and authority inside the framework of the newly independent Libyan state. This is in contradistinction to what happened in many old colonies when they were led, during their struggle for independence, by movements (religious or non-religious) which became monopolising powers after independence by virtue of their role in the historical struggle.

Some might exclude the possibility of a similar scenario occurring in Libya with its constitution which had been formulated to codify the exercise of power and authority and to guarantee the separation of its three branches.

However, this can be answered by citing a recent example in modern history when, in neighbouring Algeria, the Liberation Front of Algeria placed it-self on top of the power pyramid as a result of their having led their people in the resistance against colonialism and their subsequent independence.

It is to be noted that lack of political and cultural maturity, which was a common factor among the people of most of the former colonies, meant that they only gained their national freedom when they achieved independence after their fierce struggle against the colonial powers.  They lacked the intellectual, political and cultural awareness that was very much needed to achieve their total renaissance in the post independence period.  The absence of these vital ingredients among the peoples of these newly liberated countries was not just the reason behind the usurping of power by the groups that had led the resistance against the colonial forces, but also the primary one which made them easy prey for the distortion of government rule and the ensuing rampant corruption and nepotism.  This environment proved to be an ideal breeding ground for the storm of military coup d'état that swept the area.  Petty army officers were afforded the opportunity to stage their illegal coups and overthrow governments in a calculated risk to achieve wealth, fame and power at the expense of the interest of the population at large.

In contrast this scenario is highly unlikely to happen in countries where society is armed with a high level of political consciousness, and where their awareness of their legitimate rights and national aspirations acts as a deterrent to any group of army adventurers staging a coup d'état and overthrowing the government. 

These circumspect people keep a watchful eye over these putschists, pirates and conspirators and are always ready to return them to their barracks to face trial and be punished for their transgression against the legitimate people’s rights. The events in Greece during the 1970’s might be the best example that could be referred to in this regard.


** * **

To return to the main subject concerning Ahmad Langhi and his friends and associates in the Khaliliya order and their apprehension of the competition by the Sennusiya movement they would face if King Idris returned to rule the country.

The aforementioned facts show clearly and without any doubt that the Sennusiya movement, during the monarchy period, was not a source of any threat to any other religious movement in Libya for the following reasons:

The activities of the Sennusiya movement, before the independence, had ceased immediately after it, because there was no longer a need for them, as explained above.  Nothing remained, in this regard, except the symbols of Sennusiya movement heritage as embodied in some of its zawias (lodges) - the main one being at Al-Jaghbub [5].  The Sennusiya movement abandoned its role as a radical and a leading movement to continue as a Sufi order in a similar fashion to other Sufi orders all over Libya which have been in Libya for a long time maintaining and protecting the country’s Islamic identity.

King Idris  had never been an obstacle in the way of any religious movement whose activities were purely religious. This could be shown very clearly by the activities of numerous Sufi orders and groups all over Libya, before and after independence (as examples: Riffaiya, Madaniya, Aisawiya, Qadriya, Derqawiya, Salamiya and Arousiya).


** * **

Some time later, Ahmad Langhi and his friends joined the National Front for the Salvation of Libya and he became in a very short time one of its most prominent members.  His close friendship with Dr. Mohammad Al-Megarief, the former secretary of NFSL resulted in the marriage of his daughter to Dr. Al-megarief’s son.


To be continued

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

18 March 2007


 [1] The Khaliliyah Order is a Sufi order formed in the beginning of the 20th Century in the Egyptian village of El-Zagazig.  It was named after its founder Sayyed Mohammad Abu-Khalil (God bless his soul).  It entered Libya through teachers and Imams of mosques which the Libyan government imported from Egypt following the country’s independence.

[2] Yusuf Langhi was a well known and prominent figure in the city of Benghazi.  He was one of the most recognised Heads of the Municipality of the city.  Ahmad Langhi was very proud of his family’s rooted relationship with King Idris which goes back to the time of his grandfather.

[3] A high ranking officer in the so called “Organisation of the Free Officers”, and head of the military court of the Gaddafi regime.

[4] That did not stop it from continuing as a Sufi Order like the rest of the numerous Sufi Orders which have existed in Libya for a very long time.

[5] In 1984 Gaddafi ordered the demolition of this ancient Zawia (Lodge).  All the valuable books and manuscripts it contained were burned.  The grave of the founder Sayyid Mohammad Ibn-Ali El-Sennusi was   ransacked and his body was removed to an unknown location.


This part was published on    18 March 2007  in the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home"   ,   "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 








Part (15)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم 

[2] Announcing the Establishment of the

Libyan Constitutional Union


Abdallah Bosenn

Hajj Abdallah Bosenn is regarded as one of the most prominent personalities among Libyan dissidents and the Libyan community in the UK.  He and his family had chosen London to be their place of residence after moving from Egypt in the middle of the 1980’s.  

He is very well known for his varied social activities in the milieu of the Libyan community in Britain and in particular London where its concentration is the most pronounced in the UK.

Hajj Bosenn’s organisation of social activities that maintained and reinforced ties and links amongst members of the Libyan community in the Diaspora made him the coalescing point for its members.  In addition to this he was also acting as the head of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood organisation (LMBO). Most of the organisation’s members were concentrated in the UK.


** * ** 


Shortly after his arrival to London, Hajj Adballa Bosenn visited me at my home in Manchester. At that time he was active in paying frequent visits to Libyan personalities resident in different parts of the UK to invite them to join the LMBO.

I surmised by the investigative manner of his conversation with me that Hajj Bosenn was visiting me for two reasons, (1) to find out what the LCU was all about from its main source, and (2) to evaluate the degree of gravity of its founders to work to achieve its aims.

Our friendly conversation covered many subjects, the most important of which was the extent of my commitment to the declared aims and goals of the LCU and their realisation. The uncompromising commitment of the LCU members, including myself to honouring and upholding its principles as represented in the endeavour to return the constitutional legitimacy to its customary position in the country was plainly evident to my guest and thus it was difficult for him to ask me to join his organisation, and ultimately made the hope of his persuading me to do so disappear completely.  

Hajj Bosenn left for his residence in London leaving me with the impression that our brotherly contacts would continue and flourish for the sake of what is good and beneficial for the Libyan cause. 

However, time has passed without this hoped for communication taking place.


** * ** 


The early and mid 1980’s was a very busy period for the Libyan opposition movements. The activities of the LMBO required all the energy of its head and members to achieve prominence in opposing the military coup d'état regime in Libya. This level of activity, convening assemblies, pamphleteering, and issuing numerous press releases and literature, was only equalled by the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL). That was, in spite of the blending and overlapping that was noticeable of the two organisations in their activities of opposing the ruling regime in Libya.  A number of prominent, as well as ordinary members, of the LMBO joined the NFSL when it was established as an opposition organisation.

This overlapping, accord and affinity between the two organisations, baffled many dissidents who could not decide which organisation had the upper hand over the other.  However, others who were interested in this matter were not as bewildered, for they believed that the NFSL was no more than an organisation whose fabric was woven by the same spindle of the Muslim Brotherhood.


** * **


The stance of the LMBO towards the LCU in general and toward me personally was characterised at that time by a complete indifference which took the form of boycotting by its members. This boycott took place in spite of the close and warm friendship that I had with some members who disowned this relationship because of their partisanship.  They refrained from inviting us to both the social gatherings they organised for the Libyan community, and to the political meetings in the context of the struggle against the dictatorship in Libya.

In this context I believe that it is instructive to mention an episode, at that period, in which the reader might find a clear indication of the extent and the type of boycott that have been practiced against us by the LMBO and more specifically by their leadership.

At a large gathering of representatives of the Libyan community in the UK which took place in 1987 to discuss the establishment of a co-operative society for the community, one of the participants, Mr Ali Zeo, politely questioned Hajj Bosenn about the reason for not extending an invitation to me to take part in that gathering, while almost everybody else was invited. The few exceptions were personalities whom did not see eye to eye with the brotherhood. 

In his friendly reproach, Ali Zeo told Hajj Bosenn that the repeated omission of invitations to Mohamed Ben Ghalbon to the public occasions of the Libyan community in Britain embarrassed many of its members and fostered the impression of a conspiracy against him which was not true. He concluded by requesting that Hajj Bosenn take this into consideration in future occasions, and suggested that he contact me to explain.

Consequently, Hajj Bosenn contacted me by phone and apologized to me profusely for not extending an invitation to me when he was sending the invitations to members of the Libyan community to attend that gathering. He attributed his failure to invite me, to his forgetfulness!

In the milieu of his apology, Hajj Bosenn added that there was none more deserving to attend these functions, than myself for my being among the first of the Libyans who came to Britain seeking freedom and the opportunity to struggle and oppose the corrupt regime ruling Libya.

In spite of the aforementioned apology the situation did not change at all. The boycott against us continued in the exact same manner as before. It was clear to me that our continuous collective boycott from this colossal organisation, which was not dissimilar to the one, waged against us by the NFSL originated from their (the brotherhood’s) fear of reviving the Sanussiya movement.  In their view, that would create a rival to their organisation, which cloaked its struggle with the mantle of religion.

This, of course, was exactly what the devotees of the Khaliliya Order thought (as mentioned in part 14 of this article). For, both the Khaliliya order and the LMBO shared the opinion that the establishment of the LCU was nothing but the beginning of the revival of the rivalry of the Sanussiya movement to them. Something they both wanted to avoid, especially at a time when the Libyan opposition arena was bustling with various groups and organisations feverishly competing for new adherents. We must, however, be careful in noting the clear difference between the nature and aims of the Khaliliya Order and the nature, composition, aims, size and influence of the LMBO, in the Libyan milieu. 

The aforementioned explanation can be summarized by stating that the leadership and the members of the Muslim Brotherhood shared the belief with the Khaliliya order that the call of the LCU to rally around King Idris El-Sannusi, the symbol representing the constitutional legitimacy in Libya, was a step towards the revival of the activities of the Sanunssiya movement and the return to its previously enjoyed position in Libya.  This, according to their estimation, would lead to the cessation of the activities of other religious movements, which endeavour to achieve political aims through the utilizations of religious means.

There is no need for me here to reiterate the falsity of this concept adhered to by the leaderships and members of these two groups.

Perhaps, it would be instructive here to refer to a meeting of a number of Libyan opposition groups which my brother, Hisham, and I attended, in April 1995. This meeting was called for by the Libyan Movement for Change and Reform (LMCR), and was the first meeting we had been invited to attend. That was our first meeting with a number of opposition groups to co-ordinate our efforts in the common cause of opposing the brutal regime in Libya.

There are two reasons for my referral to this meeting:

Firstly, it was a clear proof of the boycott against us that had been engineered  by the two organisations, the Muslim Brotherhood and NFSL with the intention of making us absent in all the public activities ( be they political or social in nature) .

Not withstanding the fact that the invitation by the LMCR to us to attend that meeting was dictated upon it by the prevailing circumstances of that era.  These circumstances had led to the separation of this new group from its mother organisation, the NFSL, after deep and irreconcilable differences between their leaderships.  The new splinter group had among its leading personalities the two previous sources of the financial backing of the NFSL, Hajj Saber Majid and Mr. Husain Safrakis who between them guaranteed the adequate financial support of the new organisation for a number of the following years.

Eventually the activities of the LMCR ceased and it took a quite corner beside NFSL and other organisations and groups whose activities had stagnated due to lack of financial backing.  The Muslim brotherhood, however never faced this hindrance of financial backing, for its channels of funding are different from its counterparts in the Libyan opposition movements. Details of this matter are outside the context of this narration.

This invitation made us think that it was the beginning of a new era, in which a new method and a different style would characterise the work strategy of the Libyan opposition. This new approach would (as we thought) create an all prevailing open-minded dynamism free from bigotry and the autocracy, which had dominated the Libyan opposition for a long time, to domineer and control others.

Secondly, part of the discussion in that meeting verified the analysis I have referred to above and highlights the fear the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership had of the revival of the Sanussiya movement.

The LMBO was represented in that meeting by their chairman Hajj Bosenn and two of their most prominent members (Younis Al-Ballali and Milad Al-Hasadi). When it was the turn of the LMBO to address the meeting, the task was shouldered by Younis Al-Ballali to express his group’s point of view in the on-going discussion. He looked at the participants with contempt and disdain which was shared by his comrade Milad Al-Hasadi.  The latter had a contemptuous and derisory expression on his face, which betrayed clearly his true feelings towards the attendants, which he never bothered to hide.  

Younis Al-Ballali opened his speech by praising Allah that the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood on the stage of events in Libya had preceded that of the Sanussiya movement!! He then continued by stressing that the Muslim Brotherhood would never deviate from demanding the application of Islamic Sharia in Libya. He made that statement as he looked around at all those present and said in a defying tone of voice, “Do you have any objections to the application of the Islamic Sharia in Libya”?

In his speech, Younis Al-Ballali inserted a historical falsification and a cynical political calculation.

I decided not to correct Al-Ballali’s falsification, which could have one of two ramifications:

The First was that it exposed Al-Ballali as not only lacking in knowledge and appreciation of the history of the Sanussiya movement but, worse than that, ignorant of the history of the LMBO of which, he was one of its most prominent members. For, he displayed a glaring ignorance of the date of the establishment of his organization by Sheikh Hassan Al-Banna in the city of Ismailiya, 1928. The establishment of this organization’s cells in Libya did not start until the beginning of the sixties of the last century. Furthermore, the Sanussiya movement was established in the region of Cyrenaica in Libya at the end of the 19 century and had continued working and contributing until the usurping of power by the military in 1969. 

The second ramification of his statement was that he chose to ignore facts and historical details related to the establishment of the Sanussiya movement and the Muslim Brotherhood with which he is well acquainted, but in spite of this he went ahead with his attempt to spread this propaganda believing the others were ignorant of these details.

Regardless of which of the two possibilities is closer to the truth in this context; one thing is not open to interpretation: the reason behind the spreading of this falsification was to insinuate against the LCU, which was established with the cornerstone idea of rallying around King Idris El-Sanussi as a symbol and a representative of the constitutional legitimacy. 

I chose not to correct the falsification there and then so as not to embarrass the speaker in front of the whole meeting.  However, I could not forgive his cynical political calculations in his saying that his group were insistent on the application of the Islamic Sharia laws in Libya. So I told him –in broad outlines- that there was no need for this type of cynical political blackmail and the manipulation of Islamic principles for political ends.  For all of us were believers in Islam and we desire that Allah (SWT) grace us with living under the divinely decreed Islamic Sharia and His praiseworthy commandments. However, what we refuse is for the Islamic Sharia to be applied according to the whims and fancy of some individuals and groups who use the tools of religion to realise their own political ends as happened in a certain region under the rule of a certain group.

I meant by this allusion the application of the Sharia in the Sudan (which had been discussed earlier on the peripheral of that meeting) under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. The application of the Sharia was implemented according to the whims and interests of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood who meted out Sharia punishment on a person stealing a loaf of bread in a country living on the brink of famine while overlooking the members of its government who robbed  the Sudan and its people of millions .


To be continued

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

17th  July 2007


Many thanks to Br. Mustafa for, yet again, undertaking the strenuous task of translating this article from Arabic.

This part was published on    17 July 2007  in the following Libyan sites

"Libya Our Home"   ,   "Libya Al-Mostakbal"


Top of the Page                                                             Original Arabic 
















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