Libya Foreign Minister calls for return of monarchy

Speaking to Al-Hayat, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz said the constitutional monarchy could serve as a unifying force, and stressed the necessity of establishing an alliance with the rebels until an army and a police force are formed.

al-monitor US Secretary of State John Kerry (center) greets Libya's Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz (right) during a photo shoot at the Conference on International Support to Libya in Rome, March 6, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi.

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rebels, police, monarchy, military intervention, libya, law, constitution, army

Apr 7, 2014

Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Abdel Aziz vowed to “take it upon himself” to call for the return of the monarchy in his country and considered this “his right as a citizen first and foremost, before being a minister.”

Abdel Aziz told Al-Hayat that he was willing to be held accountable before the General National Congress (GNC), since he might be overstepping his powers in this regard. “I care about Libya as a nation. Neither the GNC (Libyan parliament) nor the government can deprive me of this right,” he said.

Abdel Aziz warned parliament of the “marginalization attempts” of some rebels and their field leaders. He also underlined the importance of establishing an alliance between them and the legislative and executive powers to enact the law until an army and police force are formed in Libya.

Abdel Aziz clarified that he is calling for the return of a “constitutional monarchy” as “a uniting symbol for the nation,” “a political umbrella” for a regime with a two-council parliament (deputies and elders) and a technocratic government led by an active prime minister. He noted that “only then will there be real opposition.”

“I am not talking about a king who rules, but about a symbolic figure like in Belgium, Britain and Spain. When we talk about royal legitimacy, we mean centrist values, the Senussi movement and the history and loyalty for late King Idris al-Senussi,” he added.

Moreover, Abdel Aziz expressed his support for returning to a constitutional monarchy by restituting the original copy of the 1951 constitution of independence. At the time, a federal system was in place among three regions — Tripoli (west), Barqa (east) and Fezzan (south). Abdel Aziz underlined that the amended version of the constitution, which canceled the federal system and was adopted by King Idris in 1963, is not the one required today.

Unity through division

Abdel Aziz believed that this version meets the Libyan citizens’ aspirations to stability and security. It also ensures national unity in the face of calls for federalism and tribal conflicts.

“Dividing Libya into a constitutional kingdom is the way to unite the country,” he noted.

Abdel Aziz added that he contacted Mohammed al-Senussi, son of late Libyan Crown Prince Hasan Rida al-Mahdi al-Senussi, to discuss the matter. Moreover, he promised to continue the talks and the meetings with the Libyan communities for this purpose.

“I will personally handle this process, whether from within the government or outside it,” he added.

Foreign intervention and rebels

Abdel Aziz confirmed that European states and neighboring countries share the Libyan people’s aspirations for a stable country, as they have common interests. He denied the West’s desire to carry out a military intervention in Libya.

“The intervention they are talking about [in the West] is not a military one. It is rather an intervention in the framework of international support and presence to help in disarmament. This is primarily a political issue rather than a technical ability,” he stated.

He also tackled the issue of armed militias, saying, “We have field leaders and rebels who protected the country in the absence of the army and a police force. They must have a say regarding Libyan affairs, the decision-making process and its protection until an army and police force are formed.”

In response to a question about the problem posed by armed rebels, he said, “They are Libyan citizens who do not betray their nation. Otherwise, what could have pushed them to carry arms and help topple the oppressive regime? They believed in a new Libya and in the state of laws and rights.”

He addressed the Libyan parliament, saying, “How can you exclude those field leaders? They have the right to contribute to building the state, legal institutions, the army and the police force.”

“The legislative and executive institutions and the field leaders must ally together effectively until an army and police force are formed. When that’s done, whoever wants to join the army is welcome. But, marginalizing field leaders at this stage is wrong and unfair,” he added.

When asked whether he had paid the rebels large sums of money from the state’s treasury, which made them reject the formation of an army or police force, he said, “Including and involving the field leaders in Libyan political affairs has to do with the state’s politics. Each field leader is supported by thousands of real rebels. They are asked to protect sea, air and land ports, and they are rewarded for the security work that they have vowed to perform. This guarantees their presence when needed.”

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