By Vanessa Tomassini.
Sheikh Al-Senussi Al-Haliq Al-Zawi is about to formally announce his candidacy in Libya’s presidential election. “I am a politician, from a well-known family full of good reputation and generosity in Cyrenaica. I wrote a lot about Italian colonialism, as did the German writer and traveller Gerd Harold Rolfes in 1870.” Says the candidate, who made the Libyans’ desire for unity a slogan and a party, but above all an important political program. Introducing himself, he adds: “I am the head of the Unity Party (Al-Wahda Party) and I am the sheikh of the Zway tribe. I was born in 1951 in Ajdabiya. I studied economics, political science and banking management in France. I had an MBA and a diploma in international relations and diplomacy. This adds to my extensive experience in political and social activism and in the resolution and management of regional and international social conflicts and crises. I was also called a statesman and during the Gaddafi regime, I managed difficult tasks between heads of state and various African leaders, influencers and decision makers.”
Sheikh Al-Senussi, first of all, thank you for accepting this meeting. Please, tell us more about the Unity Party.
“The Unity Party is a Libyan political party that respects all rights and public freedoms without restriction or conditions. The party emphasizes the civil state according to democratic foundations. It was founded in October 2021 by the youth, emphasizing the importance of national reconciliation”.
What would your political party’s program be if you will be elected?
“The party believes in the importance of the role of women and youth in the advancement of society, and shows its importance on respecting the principle of the peaceful transfer of power, and working to abolish centralization and totalitarian rule and the elimination of the policy of discrimination, marginalization and exclusion, and insists and resolves on the unity of Libya and the importance of the sovereignty of the national will while respecting the difference of heritage in society in its language, culture, customs, and its traditions, granting Libyans their full rights in social, political and economic representation, defending the rights and interests of minorities and individuals, and providing them with the opportunity for parliamentary and governmental representation in accordance with a democratic framework based on respect for freedom of opinion and acceptance of others, and working to achieve security and stability, and to consolidate and strengthen the principle of justice and equality before the law.”
Why should Libyans vote for you?
“The Libyans, at this stage, need a president who is able to unify the country and impose the rule of law, and to have the ability to gather all the components of the Libyan people in a progress path that advances the economy and development. Libya is a raw land for building a modern state, and what I represent is my affiliation and my relationships with the partners of the nation. I am from the heart of the Libyan desert, which is considered the highest geographical component in terms of area and combines its three regions. The mission of the president requires experience and knowledge of history and reality of the state.”
What do you think of the High Council of State (HCS) objections to the electoral law?
“The State Council is an advisory body and has the right to express its opinion on various issues, but what we hope is to move forward in the way of elections, following the road map that was agreed in Geneva and supported by the Berlin conferences and the Security Council, as well as the Parliament was able to implement laws and finally the High Electoral Commission has prepared the executive regulations for these laws. We do not wish to return to the zero point, as the people are tired of wars and division.”
What do you think of the recent statement from some leaders in the Burkan of Anger coalition regarding elections?
“This is normal at this stage. All the different political forces are trying to express their fears and aspirations, and we respect that within the framework of peaceful expression and objection, without any obstruction to the path of peace and elections.”
How is your relation with foreign countries? Are there countries that support your candidacy?
“After its independence, Libya maintained a neutral and friendly foreign policy for all, especially for its territory, without any hostility, and it was known that it belonged to the bloc of traditional conservatives in its territory, without interfering in the internal affairs of any country. On this principle we will consolidate our international relations, and I communicate with all neighboring countries and nations interested in the Libyan issue and seeks to help us consolidate peace. Although the foreign policy in our country during the last fifty years has gone through ups and downs, especially under the rule of the former regime, the principles and politics of Libya after independence is what we aspire to return to. I do not seek nor wait for external support from any country or entity. I am looking forward to the support of my great people who aspire to peace.”
How do you see the Turkish and Russian foreign policy towards Libya?
“It is not a secret that any of the conflicts that Libya has been affected by are international and regional. We hope to be in a neutral line in which our relations will be based on the interest of Libya and its people.”
What is your position on the exit of mercenaries and foreign forces from Libya?
“This file does not accept neutrality or silence. We are with the departure of any foreign force or mercenaries present on Libyan soil. There is no neutrality in the sovereignty and security of Libya.”
How is your relationship with Aguila Salah and Khalifa Haftar today?
“I have a good relationship with both of them, and I have relations at the same level with all political forces inside Libya.”
What do you think of the work done by Abdel Hamid Al-Dbeibah’s government so far? Which mistakes you would correct if you will be elected?
“There are many files that it is difficult for a transitional government to deal with, and we know very well the sensitivity of the current situation and the pressures on the government, but we have observations on the economic approach to them that may have consequences for the near future. As for its mistakes, we cannot blame the Dbeibah government for all the mistakes. There were governments that preceded him. They played a role in many mistakes, and all of this needs a comprehensive administrative reform and review, which is the basis of our vision.”
What is your strategy to combat human and oil smuggling in the Western Tripoli region?
“This matter will be submitted to the National Security Council, which will supervise and implement basic operations to protect the borders and organize migrant centers, and we will work on this file in line with international and local law and treaties. We have a law issued in 2010 to address irregular migration dossier, and we put between our eyes the interests and security of our neighbors, Africa, of which we are a part, or Europe, which is a strategic partner for us.”