Prince Mohammed El-Senussi’s Entry Into Libyan Elections: New Player In Country’s Political Landscape – OpEd


In 2024, Libya will be making new political decisions at various levels – international, African, and unexpectedly, the potential restoration of the monarchy through the grandson of King Senussi.

Abdullah Bathily, the UN envoy to Libya, has been working with various Libyan entities, such as the Presidential Council, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Council of State, the Government National Unity, and the General Command of the Libyan National Army, to find a compromise on unresolved issues. These issues include committing to presidential elections and forming a new government responsible for facilitating the country’s return to the voting process.

At the beginning of 2024, Bathily intensified his meetings in Tripoli with local parties and international representatives from Egypt, Tunisia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the European Union. The aim was to strengthen his initiative to resolve the Libyan crisis. The Dutch Ambassador to Libya, Joost Klarenbeek, called on Libyan parties to commit to finding a solution, while the German Ambassador invited them to participate in the dialogue process to end the political crisis, hold elections, and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in Libya. The French Ambassador, Mustafa Maharaj, urged all Libyan leaders to take responsibility for initiating dialogue. Bathily also emphasized the need for a political solution to overcome the crisis during his meeting with the Tunisian Ambassador, Al-Assad Al-Ajili. In his meeting with the Egyptian Ambassador, Tamer Mostafa, the UN envoy stressed the importance of positive participation from regional and international partners in order to reach a solution.

The parties involved in Libya were surprised by news from the Italian Nova News Agency, reporting an ongoing attempt to bring Prince Mohammed El Hassan El Rida El Senussi to Libya on February 17 of this month. Consultations regarding the return of King Muhammad al-Senussi took place in Istanbul with officials from the eastern and western regions. However, during the 72nd Libyan Independence Day on December 24, the Emir stated that his aim was not to restore the regime or the throne, but rather to achieve progress for Libya under a constitutional base and institutional reference that respects the will of the people. Following this speech, consultations and talks began with all parties involved. Prince Mohammed El-Senussi’s decision to enter the Libyan elections marks a significant development in the country’s political landscape. As a member of the prominent El-Senussi family, which has a historical connection to the Libyan monarchy, his candidacy brings a fresh perspective to the table.

Mohammed El Senussi, born on October 20, 1962, is the son of Crown Prince Hasan as-Senussi of Libya and Crown Princess Fawzia bint Tahir Bakeer. He is recognized by Libyan royalists as the legitimate heir to the Senussi Crown of Libya. Throughout the Libyan Civil War, Senussi has been actively involved in commenting on Libyan affairs, supporting demonstrations against the Gaddafi regime, and advocating for peace restoration.

Senussi leads the Movement for the Return of Constitutional Legitimacy, which aims to reinstate the 1951 Constitution and restore the Senussi constitutional monarchy. His family was overthrown by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi during the Al Fateh Revolution in 1969, resulting in their detention and subsequent house arrest. After their house was destroyed in 1982, they moved to the UK in 1988. Prior to that, Prince Mohammed worked at the Libyan Ministry of Agriculture in the early 1980s. Having received his education in the United Kingdom, Mohammed El Senussi was appointed as the heir by his father on June 18, 1992, to succeed him as Crown Prince and Head of the Royal House of Libya.

Mohammed El Senussi’s great-great-grandfather, Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi, founded the Senussi order in 1837. This order played a significant role in shaping the religious and social fabric of Libya and northern Africa. Under the leadership of Muhammad al-Mahdi and later Ahmad al-Sharif, the order expanded its influence and faced challenges from European colonizers. Muhammad Idris as-Senussi, known for his diplomatic approach, negotiated with the Italians and led the resistance against Italy’s colonial occupation, ultimately securing Libya’s independence in 1951. The United Nations endorsed a federal system of government and appointed Idris as-Senussi as the king and head of state. However, the monarchy came to an end in 1969 with Muammar Gaddafi’s military coup d’état. The Senussi legacy reflects a history of resilience, diplomacy, and a profound impact on the socio-political landscape of the region.

Will the king’s demise present a significant challenge to the stability of the country, despite international pressure on the involved parties to play a constructive role in resolving the political deadlock in line with the aspirations of the Libyan people? The Batelli plan, aimed at resolving the Libyan crisis, supports the European Union’s efforts in global reconciliation and stability, as well as the achievement of a national consensus in Libya.

Another important factor in the reconciliation process is the upcoming conference, which will be held under the auspices of the African Union on April 28, 2024, either in the city of Sirte or Sabha. This conference aims to garner support for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and the former regime, possibly with the intention of attaining power. In addition to the existing players in Libya, new actors have entered the scene. Will this lead to a political solution in Libya or further escalate conflicts?

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry is Co-lead for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the Centre for Freedom of the Media, the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield.

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