Col Gaddafi, whose original name is Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, was born on June 7, 1942 and seized power in Libya in a military coup in 1969 at the age of 27 overthrowing the monarch King Idris in his absence.
Libya was the first country in the world to have got independence under the aegis of the United Nations on Dec 24, 1951. On April 25, 1963, the then rulers abolished the federal system of government and transformed the country into the Kingdom of Libya.
The constitutional changes were made after Libya found oil reserves on its soil. Earlier, there were only just sixteen college graduates in the country. Also, the country had just three lawyers with not a single Libyan physician, engineer, surveyor or pharmacist present in the kingdom. It was also estimated that only 250,000 Libyans were literate and that 5% of the population was blind. In this background, officers were provided by the British to run the Libyan administration.
On 1 September 1969, Gaddfi, one of the few officers then in the Libyan Army, led a military coup along with his loyalists against the King Idris who was abroad for medical treatment. After capturing power, he declared himself the president of the country and renamed the country as the Libyan Arab Republic run by the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC).
Gaddafi worked with the sole motive of promoting the Arab unity and the Palestinian Arab cause till recently. When Gaddafi took over the country’s affairs, the American Army was present in the country following the earlier agreements. But, Gaddafi successfully negotiated with the Americans and ensured that they closed shop in Libya in June1970.
After changing the name of the state in 1977 to Jamahiriya, meaning state of the masses, Gaddafi called himself an advocate of Pan-Africanism and played an active role African Union in 2001. He became popular by declaring himself at times as “King of Kings”, “leader of the Arab leaders” and “imam of the Muslims” (at the 2009 Arab League Summit).
Gaddafi, though stepped down as the General Secretary of the General People’s Committee in 1977, kept his autocratic control over the affairs of the country and the army as a de-facto dictator.
His military adventures and open support to terrorists in the world made the Reagan Administration of the US brand Libya as state sponsor of terrorism on December 29, 1979. After exactly 7 years, Libya was bombed by the US.
It forced him to abandon support to terrorists gradually and establish good relations with some western countries. The Bush administration had established diplomatic relations with the Gaddafi-ruled Libya.
Even till last year, Gaddafi maintained good relations with the West but by February 2011, Gaddafi was facing internal disturbances in the country. The country soon slipped into chaos and rebels began an all out war against Gaddafi. The rebels were supported by the West including the USA.
The civil war forced the UN and the NATO support the rebels resulting in the establishment of Libya’s National Transitional Council headed by rebel leaders. On August 22, rebels captured Tripoli making the strongman run for life.
The end came today finally when he was shot at while fleeing from his native town Sirte ending the Gaddafi era once and for all.