Le Figaro 16/4/2011
- Source: Le Figaro
- Title: In London, the anguish of Mohammed al-Sanusi, exiled Crown Prince
- Author:Pierre Prier
- Date : 16 March 2011
“When I saw the Monarchy’s flag being waved by Libyan rebels, I felt immensely happy and proud”. This red, black and green flag with a star and crescent moon in the centre is his flag. Mohammed al-Sanusi is the heir to the Libyan throne. Grandson of King Idriss I, overthrown by Colonel Kadhafi in 1968, he has lived in exile in London since 1988. He does, however, want to keep a cool head: “These flags are first and foremost symbols of freedom. People have hidden these flags away for forty years; they have brought them back out to show that they want to revive their history”. Will this be with a King? “The Libyan people will choose”, he responds cautiously. “What I do believe is that Libya has the promise of a bright future, with or without a monarchy”.
But the latest news is not promising: “Today I have one message that I want to pass on. Relief aid must be sent, a ‘no fly zone’ must be established and Colonel Kadhafi’s Special Forces, who are terrorising the population, must be dealt with”. The Security Force camps, the regime’s backbone, “must be met head-on” he insisted with stubborn desperation. He claims to be ready to go to China to convince Pekin and does not understand the “slow reaction of the international community” with the exception of the French President, who recognised the Libyan National Council in Benghazi as the only representative of Libya: “We will never forget what President Sarkozy has done”.
It is possible to sense Mohammed al-Sanusi’s desire for a royal position, to appear in a position above the factions. He claims to simply be “in contact” with the Benghazi National Council. He wishes to restrict his comments, saying only that he “will act according to the people’s wishes when they become apparent” which is always said in his official biography prepared by a communications agency. It is in this office of this communications agency, in the heart of the very chic Mayfair area, where Ferraris and Aston-Martins fill the parking meters, that the Prince meets with us. There is no question of an interview at his home where he lives modestly in a rented apartment with his Mother, brothers and sisters. The Prince is not married: “I will think about that when all Libyans can have a family and normal life”, he assures. Navy blue suit, soft voice, an impression of youthfulness despite his fifty years, Mohammed al-Sanusi displays a politeness lacking in affection. He has not always lived in the relative ease that he appears to now.
A Gun to the Head
At the time of the 1969 State coup, King Idriss was travelling abroad. His nephew, Reda, Mohammed’s father, was made to sign off the end of the royal reign “a gun to the head” he recounts. The family lived under house arrest until 1984, when Kadhafi burned down their house. After four years of relocating, the Sanusi’s were ordered to go into exile. During this period in Libya, the young Prince could not continue his studies and had to work as a civil servant to the Minister of Agriculture.
It is also in 1984 that Kadhafi ordered the destruction of the founder of the Sanusi Order’s tomb in Jaghboub. “His body was dug up. We never found it again”. The Sanusi Order, a political-religious organisation founded at the end of the nineteenth century, fought the Italians and French in several countries including Chad, before taking power in Libya in 1951. Still today, numerous Libyans follow its beliefs, based on the respect of the law and work ethics. “The Sanusi Order still exists, but is represented as a religious ideal” confirms the Prince.
He is in regular contact with its supporters, he adds. And he does not want to believe that they can be defeated. “Kadhafi will not hold onto the country. The Libyans will resist. We are used to this”. The epic tale of the Sanusi Order supporter invites us fleetingly into the Mayfair office. The Prince is certain that one day, the National Council will settle in Tripoli, where a provisional government will be formed, which will organise elections. As for the Prince in this political setting? Mohammed al-Sanusi does not want to think this far ahead. He instead refers to sections of the 1951 Constitution which is based on a constitutional monarchy.
Original Article: In London, the anguish of Mohammed al-Sanusi, exiled Crown Prince