On this day September 1, 1969

A bloodless coup d’état led by Muammar al-Gaddafi overthrew Idris I of Libya.

Muammar al-Gaddafi معمر القذافـي

Muammar al-Gaddafi معمر القذافـي

The coup pre-empted Idris’ instrument of abdication, dated 4 August 1969, to take effect on 2 September 1969, in favour of his nephew, Crown Prince Hasan as-Senussi.

After the coup of 1969, Idris was placed on trial in absentia in the “Libyan People’s Court” and sentenced to death in November 1971.

He left to Kamena Vourla, Greece by ship and went into exile in Egypt, where he died in Cairo in 1983, aged 94. He was buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (Arabic: معمر القذافي‎) born 7 June 1942 is the de facto leader of Libya since the coup in 1969.

Although Gaddafi has held no public office or title since 1979, he is accorded the honorifics “Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” in government statements and the official press. With the death of Omar Bongo of Gabon on 8 June 2009 he became the third longest serving of all current heads of state.

On September 1, 1969, a small group of military officers led by Gaddafi staged a bloodless coup d’état against King Idris I, while he was in Kamena Vourla, a Greek resort, for medical treatment.

His nephew the Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi had been formally deposed by the revolutionary army officers and put under house arrest; they abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic.

A Revolutionary Command Council was formed to rule the country, with Gaddafi as chairman. He added the title of prime minister in 1970, but gave up this title in 1972. Unlike some other military revolutionaries, Gaddafi did not promote himself to the rank of general upon seizing power, but rather accepted a ceremonial promotion from captain to colonel and has remained at this rank since then.

While at odds with Western military ranking for a colonel to rule a country and serve as Commander-in-Chief of its military, in Gaddafi’s own words Libya’s society is “ruled by the people”, so he needs no more grandiose title or supreme military rank.

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