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Colonel Gaddafi

Updated on August 30, 2017

Colonel Mummar Gaddafi

Mummar Gaddafi served as the de facto head of state of Libya for 42 years. At the time of his death he was the longest serving African head of state, as well as the world's longest serving non-royal head of state. He was respected throughout Africa, but his legacy is further tarnished by the civil war during the remainder of his reign, when he fired on his own people. Gaddafi was one of four dictators to fall from power during the Arab Spring. In 2008 the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index, ranked Libya 159th out of 167. In 2011 (the year of Gaddafi's death) it was upgraded to 125th.

"I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level."


Colonel Gaddafi seized power in a coup at the age of 27 in 1969, overthrowing the aging King Idris. He gave himself the title of 'Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution in Libya'.

Colonel Gaddafi was a strong advocate of a federal African Union. He believed there should be a common currency for all 53 African states, a passport to allow people to travel amongst all the countries and a unifed army. In 2009 he was elected chairman of the African Union. In a ceremony over 200 traditional leaders and african royalty crowned him the 'the King of traditional kings of Africa"'. Rumours persist that his ultimate goal was to have Libya as the centre of the African Union, with himself as the King of Africa. His AU chairmanship was criticised as it was felt to damage the reputation of the institution. His attempt to secure another one year term in 2010 failed.

In 2008, whilst on holiday in Switzerland, Colonel Gaddafi's youngest son was arrested for assaulting two members of his staff. He was later bailed. Gaddafi promptly cancelled oil supplies to Libya, banned issuing visas to Swiss nationals, withdrew billions of dollars from swiss banks and recalled Libyan diplomats from Switzerland. He later called for a holy war against the country and urged all Muslims to boycott it. In 2009 he attempted to launch a UN resolution to 'abolish' Switzerland and divide the country up amongst its neighbours (the resolution was rejected).

Gaddafi's 40 years in power was celebrated in 2009. Extravagant celebrations were held. No western leader attended apart from the Prime Minister of Malta. State tv showed endless clips of the 'knight's' great achievements.

A civil war raged through Libya in 2011. Despite rumours that he would flee to Venezula Gaddafi stayed and fought. Following Western Military Intervention Gaddafi was shot dead.

After his death it was revealed that Gaddafi was worth over $200 billion dollars. This made him three times wealthier than Carlos Slim - the man officially recognised as the wealthiest man in the world.

War debate

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