بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The Libyan Constitutional Union :
Its Establishment and Development (17)
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 deal 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 is 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.
(First published in Arabic on 10th August 2007)
(2) Announcing the Establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union
Although it was initially intended for this article to continue on the preset methodology of dealing with the stances of some leading Libyan personalities vis-à-vis the establishment of the LCU followed by those of some of the Libyan opposition groups and organisations ; after publishing 16 parts containing details of the stances of a number of such personalities, the article has become monotonous and more akin to a scholarly report which by nature requires being confined to certain procedures and obeying rules governing the research and the conclusion. As this does not apply to this documentary article it is not necessary to be confined to these categories.
In order to break the monotony of the previous chapters I will, in this chapter, address the stance of one of the opposition groups instead of dealing with a new personality. I will continue in this fashion in the coming parts of this article.
The Libyan National Democratic Front (LNDF)
The Libyan National Democratic Front was established in August 1980 with a left wing ideology as expressed by the magazine, Al-Watan - the mouth piece of the LNDF. Among its most prominent leaders were Dr Adulrahim Saleh (may Allah have mercy on his soul), Dr. Ali Tarhouni, Mahmoud Shammam, Salah Almegherbi, Fathi Al-Baaja and Hasan Al-Ashhab.
An obvious distinctive feature of this organisation was the intellectual and ideological harmony, accord and agreement between its members. Something that was not always present in most of the Libyan opposition groups and organizations.
** * **
The response of the LNDF to the proclamation of the establishment of the LCU in October 1981 came in the form of the following brief news report entitled “Another Union”, which appeared on page 6 of their periodical “Al-Watan” in its first issue after that event (November 1981):
“And on the other hand, Eid cards with the former Libyan flag printed on their cover, and a photo of the former king Assayyid Idris El-Senusi on the inside, have been distributed in London. The cards also contained a proclamation of the establishment of the Libyan Constitutional Union, which is an organisation calling for the return of the Monarchy. Or as the proclamation called it the constitutional legitimacy. Furthermore, the proclamation called for the return of Libya to be ruled by the Senussi Crown after deciding the form of government in a referendum to be held under international supervision. This proclamation was signed by Mr. Mohamed Ben-Ghalbon, a Libyan exile living in Britain who was a merchant before travelling abroad, his brother and Mr. Mohamed Algazeri who is believed to have occupied the position of the administration secretary of the Chamber of Commerce in Benghazi” .
The above piece might not explicitly reflect the opinion of the leadership of the LNDF vis-à-vis the establishment of the LCU. However, the leadership of the LNDF tried, through the wording of the above news report, to deepen certain false conceptions in the minds of Libyan readers, in exile, of their magazine concerning the orientation of the LCU.
It deliberately entwined the two concepts of the Monarchy and that of the constitutional legitimacy and thus gave the wrong impression to its readers that these two concepts refer to one idea, namely the return of the Monarchy. This was so, in spite of the fact that the said proclamation not only contained absolutely no mention of the return of the monarchy but also indicated in very clear terms, in a way that could not be misunderstood (as the attached full text of the proclamation shows ), that it was calling only for the return of the constitutional legitimacy.
When the wording of this news report is composed by professionals, such as the leadership of the LNDF, the probability of a mistake in its composition is almost nil.
However, if this point is ignored or goes unnoticed by the average reader; it would be impossible to ignore the insistence of the writers of this report on entwining the two separate concepts of Monarchy and constitutional legitimacy, as they repeat their claim, to emphasise their point, as shown by the erroneous statement “...it also called for the return of Libya to be ruled by the Senussi Crown...” And completely bypasses the LCU’s declaration that it is calling for constitutional legitimacy and falsely interprets it as a call for a return to Monarchy.
** * **
The activities of the LNDF ceased after its leadership threw their weight behind Nuri El-kikhia, Saleh Jauda and others in the attempt to rally around the figure of Major Abdul Monem Alhouni (a member of the council of the coup d’etat) in 1992 and made him a symbol of Libyan opposition and its official spokesman.
They backed and attended a conference held in Geneva in the period between 27- 30 November 1992 which was known as “The general Conference of National Democratic Forces”. Participants of that conference included: Nuri Alkikhia representing the Libyan National Democratic Grouping, Bashir Al-Rabti representing the National Libyan Organization and Fathel Almasoudi representing the Libyan Democratic Party. Further, The Libyan National Movement (of Baathi persuasion) contributed to this conference by a message expressing support and apology for not being able to attend due to circumstances beyond their control. Their blessing of this gathering and their support and agreement for all the decisions taken in it was also conveyed. Moreover the “Seattle Group” sent a cable expressing their apology for not being able to attend the conference due to their inability to obtain Swiss visas and indicating their solidarity and support for this conference and all the decisions arrived at this gathering. Other Libyan activists attending this conference included Dr Mohammad Belrouin , Dr Mahmoud Tarseen, Mahmoud Alnakou, Ezzeddin Alghadamsi and Rashid Bsikry.
Major Abdul-Mounem Al-Houni was chosen by this conference to become a symbol of the Libyan opposition in exile, and the aforementioned personalities and groups rallied around him to form the largest opposition entity in exile at that time.
Consequently, Major Al-Houni, who conspired with his fellow petit officers against the constitutional legitimacy and usurped power, became a leader of the opposition which endeavoured to replace the coup d’etat regime with a democratic one!
Major Abdul-Mounem Al-Houni soon began addressing -in the name of the Libyan opposition- the heads of major states and international bodies such as the President of the USA (Bill Clinton) and the General Secretary of the UN (Boutros Ghali). Ironically in this farce Major Al-Houni sent a communiqué in the name of the Libyan opposition to Colonel Qaddafi asking him to “abdicate immediately and hand power over to Brigadier. Abou-Baker Younis Jaber” (another member of the notorious gang that usurped legitimate power in Libya via a military coup d'état in September 1969). 
** * **
To return to the stance of the LNDF, their oversimplification of the orientation of the LCU by its prominent members significantly dissuaded some people from accepting and supporting the LCU. Many people were enticed and convinced by the intellect and eloquence of many members of the LNDF which afforded them a high standing in social circles as well as in the milieu of the national struggle, in which they were active.
Nonetheless, it is essential here to emphasise that the backbone on which the NLDF stand vis-a- vis the LCU was built, was their left wing persuasion. Despite our intellectual and ideological differences, which are great, I must state my respect for the members of this opposition organisation because their stances are dictated by their minds and not by whims or personal tendencies. However, when they revised their intellectual and ideological stances in favour of the return to constitutional legitimacy they lacked the courage of Nuri El-Kikhia in admitting their past erroneous position.
To be continued
Mohamed Ben Ghalbon
4th January 2008
 Appendix no.1, Photocopy of page 6 of the Alwatan magazine.
 Appendix no.2, a copy of the Eid card which contained the proclamation of the establishment of the LCU, and English translation.
 The press communiqué issued by the conference on the same date.
 Appendix no. 3, the concluding communiqué of the general conference of the Libyan National Democratic Forces
 Appendices no.4 and no.5, Al-Hayat newspaper 27 February 1993 and 2 June 1993
Appendix (1) : Page 6 of Al-Watan Magazine (November 1981 Issue)
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 allegiance 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.
Appendix (2) : English Translation of the LCU proclamation
Appendix 3 ( Page 1 of the concluding communiqué of the conference of the Libyan National Democratic Forces)
Appendix 3 ( Page 2 of the concluding communiqué of the conference of the Libyan National Democratic Forces)
Appendix 3 ( Page 3 of the concluding communiqué of the conference of the Libyan National Democratic Forces)