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Libyan Constitutional Union

Friday, 14 September, 2007

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Part 17                                                                                                                  

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Libyan Constitutional Union :
Its Establishment and Development (16)

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.

Part (16)
(First published in Arabic on 12 May 2007)

(2) Announcing the Establishment of the
Libyan Constitutional Union

Nuri Ramadhan Alkikhia

There are individuals with personal characteristics that are attractive and influential to members of their social milieu. On the other hand there are others with personal characteristics that are repellent and unattractive in the eyes of the others. Between these two poles, lie the majority of people with regular personal characteristics.

Extremely attractive characteristics lead to a charisma which allows those possessing it to play the role of leader to their social or political milieu, who would follow them without hesitation.

** * **

I felt it necessary to firstly elaborate on this point before going any further in talking about Nuri Alkikhia, the subject of this particular chapter of my documentary article. For without clarification and explanation of the level of magnetism of this personality, and his influence in his social milieu, it would not be possible to present a full picture of the events he shaped with his hostile attitude towards the establishment of the LCU.

Nuri Alkikhia has a charming personality and a noted glittering intellectual presence among the Libyan groups abroad, along with conversational skills, intellectual ability and eloquence which enable him to captivate his audience. In addition to all the above, his personality is unmistakably characterised by his patriotic sincerity and his true and profound love for the homeland. There can hardly be a gathering of the Libyan dissidents in exile without Nuri Alkikhia being present in it.

These qualities should not be overlooked, when assessing the size of damage he caused to the reputation and activities of the LCU at its inception. This was as a result of his raw enmity towards the LCU, and his intention to sabotage and hinder its efforts to realize its planned patriotic goals.

It is to be noted that in spite of the fact that there was no personal relationship between Nuri Alkikhia and myself, there has been a strong and established friendly relationship between our two families dating over one hundred years. Also, despite the differences in political opinion between Nuri Alkikhia and I, which resulted from the establishment of the LCU, our personal relationship has not been affected as was the case of many others who could not differentiate between political tendencies and social relationships.


Before I continue narrating the events that shaped Nuri Alkikhia’s attitude towards the establishment of the LCU, I have to draw the reader’s attention to two important points:
Firstly; there were two motives behind Nuri Alkikhia hostile position vis-à-vis the LCU. One of these motives was personal and concerned his own experience which led him to coming to the wrong conclusion. This will be clarified in more detail later.
The second motive was partisan and concerned the fact that he is one of the leaders of the “Libyan National Democratic Grouping”. The latter will be discussed in full details later in a chapter that deals with the positions of the dissident Libyan groups and organisations.

The second point concerns an article written by Nuri Alkikhia which appeared in one of the Libyan sites on June 21st 2007 under the title “ If It Could Only Have Been Made By Wishes, We Would Have Modelled it on the Swedish style” [1]. In this article, which addressed many other issues, he expressed his opinion and evaluation vis-à-vis the feverish competition in the arena of the national struggle undergone by the different Libyan dissident organisations from the time of their formation to the time of their decline, or freezing of their activities. What is of note in this regard is the forthright acknowledgement of Nuri Alkikhia regarding the correctness of the LCU main line of thinking and approach, and his exhortation of others to follow suit and acknowledging, like him, this clear and apparent truth concerning the LCU. [2]

Nuri Alkikhia’s article- referred to above- indicated an honourable stance made more prominent by the known and typical courage of its writer. However much we greatly appreciate and respect this clear and unequivocal stance, we can not allow courtesy to prevent us from revealing the truth and the immutable facts we promised the reader at the start of this narrative.

It was by pure coincidence that the chapter of the article dealing with Nuri Alkikhia was being made ready to be published when at the same time his above mentioned article appeared on the internet. As Nuri Alkikhia’s previous stance vis-à-vis the LCU had been characterised by a glaring hostility, his extensive influence on Libyans in the dissident milieus, highlighted above, caused a great deal of harm to the LCU during the early period of its inception; through the spreading of fallacies and destructive opinions. In fact the damage caused by Nuri Alkikhia to the LCU during the time of its foundation and to its efforts to rally the Libyans abroad around its main idea was no less than that caused by Haj Mohammad Assaifat and Mr. Mustafa Ben-Halim. This trio succeeded in damaging the reputation of the LCU among the Libyan dissidents through their hostile campaign against its direction and approach. By so doing they caused the LCU to miss its justly deserved chance to present its idea in a proper atmosphere free from misrepresentations and false information. [3]

Therefore it was only natural to go ahead with publication of this chapter containing all the facts concerning the stance of Nuri Alkikhia vis-à-vis the establishment of the LCU in a direct and frank manner and without any favouritism resulting from his recent gallant acknowledgement in favour of the LCU.

This affirms the veracity of our assertion that the main goal of our publishing this documentary article is to record facts and events in our history that are not discussed. The intention is not to denigrate the personalities that are concerned. This is emphasised in the introduction above, which is repeatedly published in all chapters of this article, directly under the title of every chapter.

Perhaps it is necessary to be reminded of the preface to the first part of this article in which it has been stated that the motive behind the writing of this article is the attempt to answer the question posed by Mr Faraj Alfakhry in part two of his article, “The Missed Opportunities” published on “Libya Our Home” on 23rd December 2005 [4].

** * **

Liberation ideologies dominated Nuri Alkikhia’s convictions during the time of the establishment of the LCU. One of the most prominent of these convictions held by him and most of the intelligentsia in the post independence era was the idea of the unsuitability of the Monarchy as the form of government in Libya, and his belief in the necessity for the Total Liberation Revolution. A concept that was widely spreading with the emergence of the currents of nationalism among intellectuals in the eastern part of the Arab World. The effect of this was reflected in a series of military coups d’etat that acted to disguise the real intentions of their perpetrators, low ranking officers of the armed forces, to gain power and authority. These intentions were camouflaged by the use of the concept of revolution and its glittering slogans calling for freedom, unity and equality.

Therefore, it would not have been a surprise if Nuri Alkikhia attacked the idea, approach and aims of the LCU when it was announced. However, what was strange and reprehensible was his attempt to undermine the credibility and the basis of the LCU’s establishment by raising doubts concerning the consent of the King in this regard among the Libyan milieus in exile at every opportunity he could. This had an effect on the opinions of many Libyans of influence and power concerning the intentions of the LCU which led to the loss to the LCU of their help when it had been newly established.

Nuri Alkikhia could have formed his sceptical ideas in this matter from his comparison between the King’s consent for me to establish the LCU, and his own personal experience of being refused by the King to interview him for the magazine published by his opposition group.

The King refused Nuri Alkikhia’s request to have an interview with him during his visit to His Majesty at his residence in Cairo (sometime in the late seventies or early eighties).

Nuri Alkikhia had accompanied his mother, the honourable Hajja Halima Alkikhia, daughter of the prominent Libyan personality, Omar Pasha Mansur Alkikhia. She was among very few who had the courtesy to maintain regular visits to the Royal household, and express love and affection to the King and Queen during their cold exile. That audience with the King and Queen was granted as a purely social occasion where the Alkikhia family would come to pay their respects and be blessed by the holy man.

** * **

As the royal family discharged their hospitality duties towards their visitors Nuri Alkikhia did not bind himself to the preconditions of that visit. He asked the King for an interview for the magazine “Sawt Libya”, the official publication of the organisation, “The National Libyan Democratic Movement” [5], then rumoured to be financed by Omar Almehishi (a member of the military coup d’etat council). Moreover, among the editors of this publication were Dr. AbdulRahman Asswaihly and his cousin Salah Asswaihly, known for their pathological hate and intense hostility towards the Sannusi movement in general and the King in particular.

The King would not agree to the interview, requested by his visitor, not just for the above reasons but his main motive was the obligation associated with his status as a political refugee. This obligation involved the compliance with many rules and regulations. Further, the King was under the watchful eyes of the host country which had imposed several conditions stipulating that he would not be involved in any political activities or press interviews for whatever source regardless of its type or the reason behind it.

The King, known for his diplomacy as attested to by historical events recorded and documented in books and references dealing with his biography, apologised in a courteous manner that would not hurt Nuri Alkikhia’s feeling, yet would stop him from pursuing his request, which was void of tact, courtesy and wisdom, any further. The King’s answer was decisive and expressive when he told his guest, “We do not deal with politics in exile.”

In this context, The King was totally honest, for he had not involved himself directly in any activity that might impinge on his political status in the eyes of the Egyptian authorities. However, Nuri Alkikhia used the King’s reply as a basis for his attack on the credibility of the King’s blessing for the establishment of the LCU. He did not stop to think sufficiently about the background to the King’s refusal to that interview for his publication, which did not abstain from publishing on its cover two crossed photos -one of the crown and the other of Qaddafi, in a clear reference to the undesirability of the two regimes (see appendix 1 below). Further, there was an article in a different issue of this publication in which the nature of these two regimes was analysed, and a conclusion was reached concerning their corruption and shortcoming making them both unsuitable to rule Libya (see appendix 2 below). [7]

It is understandable that Nuri Alkikhia would maintain his doubting position concerning the credibility of the LCU founder with respect to the King’s blessing or otherwise of the LCU establishment. Nuri Alkikhia’s first hand experience of the King’s refusal of his request for an interview, and the declaration of the King to him that he did not practice politics in exile was the yardstick he used in his judgement concerning my declaring the obtaining of the blessing of the King regarding the establishment of the LCU. He had in fact told me once that the King personally told him, “We do not deal with politics in exile.” This was an indirect reference to his doubts and scepticism concerning the truth of the King’s blessing and agreement regarding the establishment of the LCU. Hence Nuri Alkikhia justified to himself the spreading of the aforementioned deduction from his own particular experience and went down the slippery slope of attacking and doubting my honesty and integrity in this regard.

His judgement of denying the consent of the King to the establishment of the LCU was based on the myopic view which led to the failure to comprehend the totality of his relevant experience, which was fundamentally different to that related to the King’s consent concerning the establishment of the LCU and this explains his arriving at the wrong conclusion.

Nuri Alkikhia understood that the refusal of the King to hold an interview with him, and his declaring to him personally, that he did not deal with politics in exile was a rigid and constant principle the King did not deviate from. Therefore, Nuri Alkikhia was convinced that it was impossible for the King to agree to the establishment of the LCU.

From this view, Nuri Alkikhia allowed himself to adopt a doubting position concerning the credibility of the founder of the LCU.

It did not occur to Nuri Alkikhia that firstly, the King did not have the freedom to practice politics in exile, by virtue of his position as a political refugee. The host country demanded he not get involved in politics or grant press interviews (especially to the opposition publications).

Secondly, it did not occur to Nuri Alkikhia at all that the statement of the King concerning his not practicing politics in exile was not a rigid and unchanging principle to be followed by him all his life under all circumstances. On the contrary it was an exception imposed on him by his status as a refugee forbidden from practicing politics by the host country. This is evident by the fact that he had practiced politics in the period before Independence at the highest level when he was in exile for twenty years, from 1922 to 1942, and it is ironic that that happened in the same host country where this conversation took place.

Thirdly, it did not strike Nuri Alkikhia that the King did not have any other option but to say that he did not deal in politics whilst in exile. The prevailing circumstances then forced him to close the subject concerning Nuri Alkikhia unreasonable request and to prevent him from repeating it. Therefore, the King’s reply was decisive in the manner demanded by the circumstances at that point in time.

Fourthly, Nuri Alkikhia did not comprehend that the essential difference between my obtaining the consent and blessing of the King for the establishment of the LCU during my first visit to him, and the King’s refusal to grant a press interview in Nuri Alkikhia’s visit rested in the different nature of the two visits.

In other words, my visit to the King was – on the one hand- not in the category of friendly and social calls made by a Libyan citizen to greet his Monarch and to obtain his blessing and prayers. The reasons for my visit were well defined and its aim was solely to obtain the King’s permission and blessing for the establishment of the LCU. Further, in my case the King was fully informed of all the relevant details in the time between my first contact with him and obtaining his permission to pay him a visit. This time span amounted to approximately a full year (see the full details concerning this point in the first chapter of this article.)

On the other hand the reasons for Nuri Alkikhia’s visit to the King were well defined within the social obligations and specifically to endeavour to express love and affection to the King and receive from him blessings and prayers. And in accordance with the traditions and the relevant protocols in this regard, it is not permitted for the person who defined the nature of his visit to a personality with the stature and the importance of King Idris to change its programme which has been prepared in advance and to deal with subjects outside the matter that he came for.

** * **

To clarify the situation in its entirety for the benefit of the reader of this documentary article, it is perhaps relevant in this context to provide an example showing the manner and the means Nuri Alkikhia pursued in his attacks on the LCU and the misinformation he was spreading concerning it among the Libyans in their various gatherings.

The most blatant example that could be given in this regard is what happened during the period of my father’s death in Alexandria in the summer of 1984. Nuri Alkikhia was among the first who came to express their condolences and support and he was among the last to leave during every night of the traditional period of mourning.
According to the custom and the generally kept tradition in our Libyan society, a few weeks after the death of the person, the number of people who offer their condolences gradually dwindle with the passing of time and only relatives and close friends of the family of the deceased maintain their daily visits for a period of time whose length depends on each individual case, as a gesture of their sympathy and affection for the bereaved family.

Nuri Alkikhia was among those friends who continued their visits without interruption after the first period of the bereavement had passed. During that period our chats usually extended until the early hours of the following morning.

During one of the gatherings a heated discussion concerning the constitutional question in Libya ensued. One of the people present asked me about the nature of the LCU because he was not fully aware of its entire details. As soon as I started answering that question, I was interrupted by Nuri Alkikhia with signs of anger and agitation on his face saying words to the effect of; you are very clever!, “أنت مش ساهل!”. He then went on to say; “you have manipulated this discussion cleverly to cover the case for the Constitution so that you could advance the case for the LCU, I will not permit you to use this gathering as a platform for this purpose.”

This small incident speaks volumes about Nuri Alkikhia stance vis-à-vis the LCU. Further, this incident gave credence to what I had heard frequently about Nuri Alkikhia’s attacks on the LCU and the misinformation concerning its ideas and aims that he had been spreading.

Prior to this incident I had refrained from discussing politics in general and the LCU in particular, on a personal level, with Nuri Alkikhia. This was due to an experience I had with him during our first meeting at the end of 1981. I visited him in his then residence in London to introduce and explain the details and aims of the idea of the LCU to him. He understood and appreciated the ramifications and the consequences related to this subject in the expected manner of a man with his sharp intellect and refined culture. He then told me “This is a grandeur idea which needs Omar Pasha Alkikhia (Nuri’s grandfather).” He paused for a while and added regretfully, “But Omar Pasha is dead!”

My reaction to his tactless reply was to utter the customary prayer for the dead on the soul of his grandfather and never again to talk to him about politics on a personal level. However, this decision has not prevented us from discussing politics on an organisational level, i.e. the level common to all the opposition organisations and groups, whenever the need arises.

To be continued

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

11 September 2007

[1] A link to the said article:

[2] Nuri Alkikhia’s acknowledgement of the correctness of the LCU stance and approach, in his aforementioned article, was not new to us, since he told my brother Hisham about his “new” conviction when they met in the National Conference of the Libyan Opposition which convened in the summer of 2005 in London.

[3] That period was exceedingly critical and difficult for the founders of the LCU. Problems associated with that period could be summarised in two elements:

Firstly, the misinformation campaign which was led by Haj Mohammad Assaifat, Mustafa Ben Halim and Nuri Alkikhia, in the period after the announcement of the establishment of the LCU. This campaign hindered LCU activities and caused a lot of trouble for its founders and members when it had just been launched.

Secondly, the letting down by a group of the founders members during the early preparation stage, that preceded the announcement of the establishment of the LCU.

The first of these two elements concerning the disinformation campaign has been clarified in the parts of this article dealing with the relevant personalities. However, with regard to the matter concerning the letting down perpetrated by some personalities associated with us in the preparation stage. The summary of the relevant details is as follows:

Muftah Lamlum and his co-members of the “The Libyan Patriotic Front” organisation were among the people who were invited to participate in the establishment of the LCU. After looking into the ideas of the LCU and its aims and reaching full agreement with these principles, they dissolved their aforementioned organisation and all of them joined the LCU as founder members.

With this background in mind, Muftah Lamlum was assigned essential tasks to be fulfilled after the declaration of the establishment of the LCU. However, he got in touch with me two days before this declaration to tell me of his decision to withdraw from the LCU and of his absolving himself of all the obligations that he promised to undertake. He told me, “Your establishing of the LCU is tantamount to political suicide.”

The behaviour of Muftah Lamlum was contrary to all the rules of commitment and responsibility, and caused us some perturbation during that very important period. This behaviour was in total contrast to that of, Mohammad Algeziery, another founder of the LCU whose conduct was the ultimate in commitment and the deep rooted sense of responsibility. It is beyond words and description in this context to mention Mohammad Algeziery’s ceaseless efforts and contribution, his health and circumstances permitting during the years.

Mohammad Algeziery refused a generous offer by Dr. Mohammad Elmegrief, when the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) was enjoying its highest level of influence and prestige, to leave the LCU and join the Salvation Front in return for an enticing monthly salary. This offer was made when the two (Mr Algeziery and Dr Elmegrief) had a private meeting arranged by Mr. Assenusi Albieggo.

The reader can find below a photo for Muftah Lamlum and Mohammad Algeziery. This photo was taken during the preparatory work for the establishment of the LCU.

[4] Full details of this subject are in the preface of chapter one of this article

[5] Nuri Alkikhia was one of the most prominent leaders of the “The National Libyan Democratic Movement”, merged in September 1981 with The National Libya Grouping” (founded by Omar Almeheshi) to form “Libyan National Democratic Grouping” which still pursues its opposition activities abroad until now.

[6] In spite of persistent rumours among the Libyans, at that time, that Omar Almeheshi is the financial backer of the activities of “The National Libyan Democratic Movement”, however, there is no material evidence that proves or disproves these rumours.

[7] See appendices 1 & 2 below, and the English translation of the relevant extracts of the movement’s “political vision”.

Cont: Appendix (2):
A translation from Arabic of Extracts from the “Political Vision” of
“The Democratic National Libyan Movement”,
which was published in the November 1980 Issue of the movement’s official publication
“Sawt Libya” (Issue No. 9) ,

1. The following is a quote from section one of chapter one under the subtitle: “The debilitation of the Monarchist regime”: -

“Our people’s struggle entered a new stage against the monarchist regime which deprived the masses of our people from practicing true democracy. And who’s negative stands from what was going on in the Arabic and international arena was at odds with the aspiration of the nation and increased the deep divide that separated it from those aspirations…..((…..))
The struggle of the patriotic elements had escalated on a parallel line with the monarchist regime’s inability to comprehend those aims. That deficiency resulted in the old regime’s failure to organise the movement of society on the one hand, and securing the interests of the occupation (foreign powers) on the other. The political atmosphere had evolved to the extent that the conflict between the practises of the regime and the aspirations of the patriotic forces took a recognisable shape and obvious features”.

2. The following is a quote from section two of the same document under the title : “the nature of the military coup d'état ”: -

“The framework of the monarchist regime had collapsed. That came as no surprise. The regime was bankrupt and lacked popularity and national appeal. In fact even its own pillars were unconvinced of its ability to sustain itself. This was the reason behind their reluctance to defend it”.

“The masses which spilled on to the streets daily until the 9th day did not come out to bless the new regime or to support its perpetrators, as it knew nothing about them. In fact those masses came out to express their relief at the fall of the monarchist regime. Any suggestion to the contrary of this is deemed an offence against the truth and against history”.

Mohamed Ben Ghalbon, Muftah Lamlum and Mohamed Algeziery
in the LCU headquarter, October 1981.

Muftah Lamlum, October 1981
days before the announcement of the establishment of the LCU

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Part 17                                                                                                                  

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