Magharebia (Washington DC)

16 January 2014

Libya: Monarchy Debate in Libya

Benghazi — A debate is under way in Libya about the best form of government for the country.

Some citizens are calling for a monarchy under King Idris' heir Mohammed Hasan al-Rida al-Senussi, others reject the idea outright, and some say the issue should be decided by popular referendum.

"What we're interested in now is the country's development, stability, reconstruction and unity," said lawyer Mansour al-Ramli, 34.

"I approve the prince's return to office because he is the best given his loyalty," he said.

But Sharifa al-Fesi, a Benghazi-based journalist working for Brnieq newspaper, said that Libyans didn't want "to return to the past".

"When the revolution took place, we deleted the name of his uncle, King Idris al-Senussi, from the anthem because there was a group that didn't like monarchy," he told Magharebia.

"We want someone who would secure this country for us and establish security in Libya," al-Fesi said.

Soaad Ali al-Magharabi, 34, an employee at the Electricity Institute, also rejects the idea of a monarchy for Libya.

"I don't approve of the prince's return because he has lived as a prince and doesn't know the tragedy of Libyans. I'm also against the rule of Libya by anyone who lived overseas and doesn't know anything about Libyans' concerns," he said.

"We don't want a hereditary royal regime where the affairs of state are put in the hands of one family or one person," Mohamed Salem Ali Salem agreed. "Why don't we elect a president of the state?" he asked.

Some people raised the prospects of improved security under a king.

Ahmed Beshir said, "The prince has every right to rule. Wasn't the revolution staged to remove injustice and restore rights to their rightful owners? Wasn't it said that Kadhafi's coup was a coup against legitimacy?"

It's only fair to restore power to those who own it, he said.

"After that, change can take place via democratic means through an elected parliament," he added.

Saad al-Dinali, a journalist at the Press Support Authority, said, "Everyone knows that the current stage in Libya is tough and unusual. Therefore, everyone is trying as much as they can to have a share in the Libyan cake."

"There are changes on the ground now and we need the prince to show his position from so we can have an opinion about him returning to rule Libya again," al-Dinali continued. "One of the most prominent issues is the form of government: will it be a constitutional or absolute monarchy?"

"Now the Prince needs to take the initiative and clearly explain these things to us, and after that, the issue can be raised to all Libyans in a referendum about monarchy," he said.

"If the prince's return to office will lead to the country's stability, why not?" asked Mahmoud Ali al-Barghathy, a 43-year-old engineer at the Man-Made River Company.

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