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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.(*)
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