The son of Libya’s last monarchical ruler has a plan to revitalize and stabilize his oil-rich nation. In 2011, Libyans overthrew 42 years of rule by socialist dictator Muammar Ghazzafi. Millions of Libya embraced the flag and national anthem of Libya’s former monarchy.
At the time, many urged Mohammed El Senussi urged to return home. He did not. He deferred to a skill many leaders would do well to cultivate — patience. In an interview at the Victory Services Club in London he exhibited a calm, relaxed demeanor as he presented his case for the thrown.
He will only return if the Libyan people return them and are in line with international values as part of a parlimentary democracy. Indeed, in his first-ever lengthy interview in English, he laid out his vision for Libya and analysis of the current situation with an eye toward the investment opportunity and the economy.
“Unfortunately, after the fall of [the regime] in 2011, which had seized power via a coup in 1969, rather than putting the country back on the right path, we have been through different political experiments that have not taken into account what works for Libya and its people. This has led to a chaotic political scene with different Libyan factions desperately fighting over power and wealth but without legitimacy,” El Senussi said.
What’s The Situation Right Now?
Since 2011 the country has faced various forms of political gridlock with at one point three rival national governments. The situation has consolidated somewhat with the country’s hundreds of armed factions coalescing between two different coalitions. Last year, UN-brokered talks between the eastern-dominated House of Representatives (HOR) and the Tripoli-based High Council of State (HCS) – two rival competing national governments.
The two sides appear deadlocked on a new constitution. As the gridlock continues, some clamor for a return to the monarchy, which El Senussi represents (a distant relation’s claim is considered peripheral according to Debrett’s Peerage, an organization which tracks peerage).
“The rule of law is something Libya clearly lacks and believes by someone who could put its primacy in the Libyan legal system. At that stage, Libya could attract the investors the country needs to diversify its economy,” said El Senussi.
Libya As A Potential Investment Location:
El-Senussi spoke at length about the country’s economic outlook for investors. He made the pitch to CEOs and investors around the globe for Libya as a target for foreign direct investment in this way.
“Libya is a large country, the 16th largest in the world, with enormous natural resource wealth and a small population of highly educated and skilled professionals, so it is obvious that our country has great prospects. But unfortunately, we have several issues that limit our potential, such as security, stability, transparency, and accountability, to name a few,” El Senussi said.
Libya’s resource wealth remains large and much of it untapped.
ibya, along with Iraq, is perhaps the two OPEC countries that have seen the least amount of conventional oil & gas exploration due to the fact that their long-time socialist dictators sought to keep certain tribal or ethnic outgroups from increasing their economic predicament. The country’s potential for mining is also largely unexplored.
El Senusssi also made clear his vision was to ensure that the country’s economy would be further. “I wish you people had found water. Water makes men work. Oil makes men dream,” said King Idris I upon hearing of the massive oil discovery in his kingdom.
Libya’s Monarchy: A Case Study In Leadership
Libya’s independence was granted on Christmas Eve, 1951, its prospects looked bleak. It had few natural resources. It was littered with landmines and unexploded ordinance from World War II. Tens of thousands had perished in during that conflict and its popualtion was spread across one of the world’s largest countries.
The Soviet Union had sought to annex it at one point. Another scheme sought to have half of it returned to Italy while half of it attached to Egypt. From the mid-1950s onward, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser was hostile to the kingdom’s existence. Somehow King Idris’s strategic patience allowed him to see off many challenges.
Indeed, Henry Serrano Villard, the first United States Minister to Libya, praised the “wise and temperate leadership of King Idris,” who he wrote in 1959 had “steered a cautious course through the treacherous waters of international politics and gave promise of peace and stability within its borders as the years roll on,” Villard wrote at the time.
El Senussi’s supporters point to his growing popularity in the country, and the time may have come for him to return to Libya and claim his birthright. His father was the Crown Prince and de facto day-to-day ruler by the late 1960s. Indeed, the day before King Idris was to officially turn over power to El Senussi’s father – Colonel Ghazzafi led a coup inspired by Egypt’s Nasser.
El Senussi’s father had met President JFK and traveled to the U.S. to discuss a defense deals. Yet, he soon found himself an enemy of the socialist state. He spent nearly two decades after the 1969 coup in prison or other forms of confinement. At one point, the El Sennussi family home was burned to the ground.
However, he refused to leave the country. In 1988 he went to London for medical treatment, finally passing away in 1992. His son joined him in exile, only returning briefly in 1992 to bury his father.
El Sennussi himself has little to say about these years or the hardships he faced.
Instead, he wants to focus on Libya’s future in which he see’s the monarchy could play a key role. He cites the example of Morocco where King Mohammed VI has overseen a period of growth and revitalization.
“Reinstating the constitutional monarchy provides for parliamentary democracy and will give the judiciary its full independence again. This is vital for any nation’s aspiration for a successful path, including in business and investments. Transparency, stability, honesty, neutrality, and the rule of law are key ingredients for revitalizing Libya’s economy,” El Senussi said.