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Libya’s new National Dialogue is a chance for European leaders to make things right

by editor

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

Competing outside interests have fanned the flames of internal discord in Libya. European policymakers must show an active interest in this new initiative, rather than falling back repeatedly on the failed formulas of the past, Ashraf Boudouara writes.


Libya is again at a crossroads. One path is marked “Dead End” — that’s the path we are on. 

It’s a path to nowhere because expecting those who will lose power in elections — and with it their financial interests — to agree to organise elections is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. 

Turkeys never do, but this is the process the UN is leading. 

The other, more rational path is to support the new Libyan-led National Dialogue recently launched by Prince Mohammed El Senussi, the legitimate heir to the Senussi Crown of Libya, to break the deadlock. 

Rising above narrow interests to reunite our divided country, this new National Dialogue is gathering pace and capturing hearts and minds across all factions of our country. 

It’s the only realistic path at this crucial intersection. It embodies a patriotic vision centred on inclusivity, legitimacy, democratic governance and Libyan national identity, and Libyans expect Europe’s active support in this re-found hope for our country.

A Libya in disarray impacts Europe’s future, too

The political failures since 2011 have been unequivocal, leaving Libya in disarray. We have suffered multiple civil wars. Elections have been promised, cancelled, or indefinitely delayed multiple times. 

Multiple governments — appointed by non-Libyans if we agree to call things as they are — have delivered dividends only for narrow interests, thus deepening divides rather than bridging them. 

Thousands have lost their lives due to a lack of governance, an inability to provide citizens with security, and sorely lacking economic development and infrastructure due to endemic corruption.

The implications for Europe are far-reaching. From a lack of security on its southern flank that has seen destabilising elements take root, increased illegal migration to the continent (2023 saw a whopping 2,200 migrants die on their way to reach Europe’s shores), to energy insecurity as a result of global instability which could have been easily offset with access to Libya’s vast reserves (our country is home to 48 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, representing North Africa’s largest supply), the situation could not be any more serious for European strategic interests. 

And although some countries have been more engaged than others, it is apparent that Europe simply has no coherent vision for the future of Libya. At times, different European countries, for example France and Italy, have even been on opposing sides.

A true, Libyan-led grassroots dialogue

But now, in the face of a seemingly intractable impasse, a new and realistic hope for a better future is rapidly taking hold across the country. 

Just weeks ago, on the occasion of Libyan Independence Day, Crown Prince El Senussi delivered his annual address. This has become a highlight in the country’s calendar for many. 

And while in previous years his words were primarily focused on providing strength and hope to his countrymen, this year he did so in a far more concrete way, announcing the launch of an ongoing new Libyan-led National Dialogue.

Unlike any of the previous initiatives seen, this dialogue is truly Libyan-led and grassroots under the leadership of Prince Mohammed. 

Announcing an impressive roster of Libyans who have travelled to meet with him in capitals around the world, the extent to which this project is truly inclusive is distinctive. 

From currently serving political officials to community leaders and elders from across the land, to military leaders, academics, the youth and many others, they have all come to see the Crown Prince with the same message in mind: the time has come to work together to create a truly united Libya.

What can we learn from Libya’s history?

As Prince Mohammed reminded those present, an important fact that has been under-appreciated is that Libya faced similar, though of course not identical, challenges immediately after World War II. 


The ravages of the multi-decade Italian colonisation, World War II itself where Libya was a field of battle, set in the context of the same tribal, regional and ethnic affiliations and fissures you see today, combined to create a political landscape possibly even worse than Libya faces today. 

But immediately after, Libya found a way out to herald in what is commonly referred to now as its Golden Era.

It did so by relying on its own cultural and historic norms, falling back on its own national identity, to implement political processes and constructs that had intrinsic legitimacy, the necessary national significance to be unifying, as well as the necessary symbols and institutions that fostered loyalty and patriotism to make reconciliation and nation building possible. 

Starting in 1949, in under two years, the last National Dialogue reached a consensus to adopt the 1951 Independence Constitution.

It set up a democratic constitutional monarchy, with an elected parliament and representative governance. It established a bicameral legislature comprising a Senate and a House of Representatives, allowing elected officials to voice the concerns of the populace. 


There was also of course an independent and much-respected judiciary. This framework aimed to ensure a balance of power between the monarchy and the legislative branch, providing avenues for citizen participation and fostering a democratic foundation.

Elections were held, and women were allowed to vote, offering citizens the opportunity to engage in the political process and express their preferences. In fact, women had the right to vote in Libya before they did in Switzerland and Portugal.

Europe can still have a positive impact on Libya

There are many models of democratic constitutional monarchy in the world today including Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Malaysia and Japan. 

Each evolved from and is consistent with the country’s own history, culture and national identity. It was the same in Libya.

Libya’s new National Dialogue should be seen as an opportunity for European leaders to finally have a positive impact on our country. 


To date, by any measure, foreign interventions have contributed significantly to instability in our country. Competing outside interests, including amongst European countries, have fanned the flames of internal discord.

There is a need for a paradigm shift, especially amongst European countries, to support the new National Dialogue launched by the crown prince, a homegrown approach to stability and progress in Libya, that is taking hold and has the necessary ingredients for success. 

European policymakers must show an active interest in this new initiative, rather than falling back repeatedly on the failed formulas of the past. The time for action is now.

Ashraf Boudouara is a Libyan political analyst and the Chairman of the National Conference for the Return of the Constitutional Monarchy.

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