This unit is about Libyan Revolution of 1969 from as their colonial master in 1911 and In 1945 it came under the joint control and administration of Britain and France as a trusteeship Territory.



Libya was colonized by Italy in 1911 and during world war to it was a battle field by the allied powers against the Italians.

In 1951, Libya got independence under king Idris al- Sanussi the leader of the Sanussiya brotherhood and an ex- service man, and former leader of Cyrenaica region.

On 1st September 1969, Idris was unseated by a group of young army officer belonging to the free unionist officer under the leadership of Muamer Gadafi and Major Jalloud who carried out the revolution which overthrew king Idris- al -Sanusse.

The reasons for the coup and revolution were;

The need for political unity and the putting to an end to regionalism .Before 1969, the administration of Libya was divided into 3 regions Tripolitania which was occupied by well to do in the north Berbers Cyrenaica also in north occupied by the Sanussiya, Sufi and ruled by the Sanussiya brotherhood and In the Fezzan inhabited mainly by the nomadic Badiuns. The area was largely a desert.

The young officers wanted the 3 regions to be joined politically and be administered as one.

Exploitation of Libya’s resources by foreigners. In 1959 Oil was discovered and began to be mined in Libya but   the oil exploitation was dominated by American and British firms who took all the benefits while the majority of the Libya’s remained poor. This made the young army officers ever throw Idris so that the exploitation and use of the mineral resources would be in the hands of the Libyans for their benefits.

The tribalism and Nepotism practiced by king Idris . The king favored his tribes men and relatives whom he gave top government positions for example he depended a lot on the Shalki family for advices canal Abdul- Aziz shalhi was the army commander and Omar Shalhi was the cabinet minister such nepotism compelled the young army men to overthrow Idris and have a government where equitability would be observed.

Idris dictatorship. Idris ruled without a constitution after disregarding the one he had been given at independence. His opponents were imprisoned and some were killed and this compelled the FUO to overthrow him and establish. A democratically run government.

The corruption by government officials. The officials in king Idris government were corrupt .They gave contacts to foreigners to exploit Oil and establish business in exchange for bribes .As a result , these oil and establish businesses in exchange for bribes . As a result, their official became extremely rich at the expense of the masses were poor. This compelled Gadafi and his friends to overthrow Idris in order to end the rampant corruption.

The need to modernize Libya. By 1969, Libya was a backward country with poor education, sanitation and health services. The young officers overthrew Idris in order to modernize Libya like other states in North West Africa and to be like Egypt.

The desire to purify Islam King Idris and his official practiced Lax Islam where they drank Alcohol some went around with prostitutes so the young officers as radical Moslems wanted to have a state where Islam would be strictly observed and the Sharia law and Quran as guiding instruments.

The influence of Nasser and Egypt. Nasser provided mentoring to Gadaffi , he, provided financial support to Gadaffi in his plans and the FUL movement was modeled on the free officers movement in /of Egypt; Libya had the same problems as Egypt had before 1952 so the officers felt that what Egypt had achieved, Libya could also achieve.

The need to reform the army. Idris neglected the army which didn’t have modern weapons, the pet ranks and file was very poor .The army was small and incompetent and their defect in the Arab – Israel wars of 1967 had undermined the prestige of the army men and this compelled Gadaffi and his respect friends to overthrew Idris and establish a modern army which would win respect for Libya.

The hatred against the infidels and their influence in Libya. The British, French and stations still had responsible positions in Libya by 1969 so the fundamentalists young officers in the army overthrew Idris as a form of Jihad in order to get rid of Infidels influence in Their country.

The personality and ambitious of Muamer Gaddaffi. As early as the age of 19 Gaddaffi nursed the ambition of being the leaders of Libya from his academy because he believed that Libya. He convinced his Friends like Major Jalloud to Join him and form free Unionists Officers and he planned for the coup for 10 years .So that he would take top political control over his country.

Despite the weakness of king these were some of his achievements.

He fastered infrastructural development of the railway connecting the industrial towns which were modernized.

He ruled Libya with a constitution which helped to transform a country from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

He fastered exploitation of Libya’s Oil resources which had lain resources during his fathers time.

He beloved in economic aid from the countries of West. European and West. Africa and this was used to faster economic development.

He worked an friendly terms with the UNO secured Libya’s independence in 1951.

His government improved on primary and secondary education which had been largely ignored by Italians and even by the British.

He fastered military education in order to create abase for a competent army especially during the time when col. Abdul Aziz was the commander of the army.


After the overthrew of king Idris, Gadaffi and his friends including major Jalloud establishment the Revolutionary command council (RCC ) and made changes in the social , political and economic field so that the changes constitute a revolution and these include.

The RCC established a some how democratic government where local elections where held to choose local leaders and by 1980, there were about 100 councils through Libya didn’t become a fully democratic state.

Libya got complete and meaningful independence .The Italians, Americans and British who had dominated life in Libya were chased out of Libya and some were deprived of being advisors of the government by the end of 1970.

The government closed foreign military bases. The N.A.T.O to base at whelus and the British training base at El – Adem. These bases were later converted to the use of the Libyan army training.

Foreigners were expelled , about 15000 and 1800 Italians , French Americans, British including business men , farmers were expelled and their properly worth 46 million pounds was Nationalized with compensation payable to 16years.

The revolution resulted into increased population and from 1970 oil producers among the OPEC countries after Venezuela, Syria, Kuwait, Russsia and by 1890, Oil accounted for 50% of the countries GDP and contributed about 79% of her foreign exchange earning.

The oil boom increased the per capital income, standards of living of the people were widened the scale of employment and even the unemployment and even the unemployed were given employment opportunities.

It resulted into the establishment of several industries like those manufacturing cement, steel, iron petrol chemicals and this helped to faster economic transformation in Libya.

Agriculture modernization occurred as a result. Before Agriculture was largely carried out by the Bedwius, on the Oasis but after 1969, the agriculture sector was enriched by government subsidies, provision of tractors, mechanical weeders, mechanised harvesters, irrigation equipment and other agriculture machinery. The people were encouraged to grow a variety of crops including olives, dates, barley, maize and other grains.

Livestock rearing was diversified and livestock like cattle, sheep, poultry, and camels were reared on the oasis. Cooperatives were established to help the farmers to access investments funds, to advise farmers on better farming methods.

The cooperatives set up stock rearing and improvement centers and all these changes in agriculture made Libya self scarified in food and increased her exports compared to the period before.

The revolutionary command council initiated hand redamation involving irrigation and afforestation especially on the Jaffara plain over 1,000,000 hectares were reclaimed from desert and people were encouraged to plant trees to reduce on the Zibs of soil erosion by the desert winds.

The RCC helped to improve on education free and compulsory primary education was introduced for the children between ages of 6 and 15, so that by 1976, the number of school going children was doubled from what it had been in 1969. More up to date secondary schools were established. The number of university students quadripled and the Al- Tatah University was expanded to cater for the increasing number of students. Adults literacy was encouraged and by 1980, the literacy rate was over 60% of the population compared to 61% in 1951.

After 1969, there was improvement in medical facilities and services .Modern medical care was introduced and it was free, more hospitals and clinics were built. Clean drinking water was supplied to most of the villages so that diseases like tuberculosis were decreased by 80% and of number of children suffering from mal nutrition was greatly reduced.

After 1969, there was improvement in sanitation. The state provided free and modern accommodation for newly qualified graduation low income earners, and those who lived in shortly places. The people were encouraged to acquire television sets and Radio using low income bans from the Government.

Therefore there was increased employment opportunities. The government used the oil wealth to establish industries and other economic activities which employed large number of people, this reduced the unemployment rate that had existed before today Libya even absorbs some immigrant labour from neighboring countries like Chad.

There was women emancipation from 1970, women were given equal opportunities as men. They got access to equal education services in hospitals and industries. A special school for training women cadets was established from which women were enrolled in the armed forces as valued personnel. Today women dominate the president Guard unit.

There was cultural enhancement after 1969. Western values education and religion were discouraged. Open drinking of alcohol was burned, many night clubs were closed. Catholism was discouraged Arabic and Islamic values and laws were promoted and non-Arabic couldn’t enter Libya without Arab Translation on their passports.

Libya was transformed to Jamahiryga state base on Islamic fundamentalism; Gaddaffi introduced the 3rd universal theory, a theory that blends capitalism and socialism especially the merits of each Islam was made the state religion. All the laws were based on the Sharia code Islamic socialism become the guiding principle and philosophy of the country and Gadaff’s “Queen buk” became of the basis on the politics of state.

There was establishment of a modern army supported by a strong army and a modern and Compete air force manned by highly trained men and women so that Libya is now a strong respected military power.

There was introduction of a comprehensive social security policy where the state looks the state looks after the benefits to those who are not employed.

There was a boast to infrastructural development through a series of 5yrs development plans. The ports where enlarged, roads were modernized, railways were constructed and modern airports were constructed in Tripoli and at Benirah outside Benghazi.

Short comings of Libya revolution (Negative effects)

The revolution resulted in the establishment of a one party socialist dictatorship. The Arab socialist Union (ASU) was proclaimed the only legal party. Other opposition parties were banned and Qadhafi Oppressed opposition, beginning in the 1970’s .Many members of the opposition have been excuteded, both at home and abroad. The revolutionary regime banned dissent and it was compulsory for all elected reps to follow the guidelines of the thoughts of Qadhafi. (Gadaffi)

Libya interfered with the internal affairs of Chad leading to a bloody civil war. Between 1982 and 1988, Libya supported the Toubou of Northern Chad to fight the elected central government of Francois Tambal baye . This developed into a full scale civil war that brought untold suffering to the peoples of Libya and Chad.

Gadaffi: developed a personal cult . That without him, Libya will disintegrate and collapse.

Libya’s Human a rights record worsened under the revolutionary regime.

Libya attempted to force political Mergers with other Arab states, but all attempts failed. The proposed federation of Libya, Syria and Egypt collapsed in 1972 because other nations feared. Gadaffi’s domination.

The revolution led to the emergence of violence a military Islamists attempted to over throw Gadaffi.

Since 1969, Libya has been firmly aligned against Israel and western interests .Libya supported efforts to destroy the state of Israel. He supported the Palestinian Liberation movement of the late Yasser Arafat against the state of Israel.

Libya collaborated with and supported unpopular and dictatorial regimes in Africa.

Because of the revolution, Libya suffered decades of isolation and sanctions.


The timing of the coup. The FUO s carried out the coup on 1st and 2nd September 1969 at the time when the king Idris was out of the country on state visit to Turkey.

Absence of top officers in the country. At the time of the coup the leading army officers ere planning to go to Britain and some were already out of the country to undergo further training so the army was taken un ware by the coup plotters and it was therefore unable to make a lot of resistance to the forces loyal to Gadaffi and his friends.

The Libyan army was big, had out dated weapons, was demoralized by poor pay and living conditions. It had just suffered defeated in the 1967 war between Israel and the Arab countries so the army was not up to the task of fighting effectively against the coup plotters.

The coup was well planned for a reasonably long periods of 10 years. The F.U.O.s had planned affectively and so the coup was carried out with efficiency.

The coup planners sand executors exercised maximum secrecy and discipline. They didn’t drink alcohol, they didn’t gramble and they avoid moving around with Women. They didn’t o to night clubs. They spent most of their time in prayer at the mosque and afterwards only drunk tea in a near by restaurant, as they palannel their activities, they were detected by government officials giving a strong element of surprise to the coup.

The unpopularity of king Idris and his government. By 1969, King Idris and his government were detested by the army students and the Moslems. Demonstrations aimed at getting change were frequent and by 1969. The people support to Idris his dictatorial tendencies. His close cooperation with the infidels undermined his popularity so that all people welcomed the coup in 1969.

External support of Egypt. Nasser gave guidance moral and help to Gadaffi for the planning of coup. This enabled Gadaffi and his friends to a carry out the coup successfully.

The personal ability and ambitions of Gadaffi .By 1969, Gadaffi was an excellent and intelligent signal officers who other soldiers so that it become possible for the coup plotters to move and coordinate their activities without hindrances.

The part played by F.UO. prior to the coup , the movement had exposed the Ills of Idris government. It inspired the people to be displayed to the government and enabled the coup makers to succeed.

The early take over of Gurnadda Military coup at the very beginning of coup. The plotters Targeted of Guinadda where the armoury of the government was. This enabled the coup plotters to get arms but at the same time prevent many soldiers from getting access to the arms.

The capture of Benghazi radio. While some of the coup plotters were taking over Gurnadda. Another group captures Radio Berghazi from which they announced government took over from .They moved to major cities including the capital Tripoli.

The cooperation between Moslem fundamentalism and the F.U.O there to closely cooperated in depopularizing Idris Government and making people aware of the need for change. This prepared ground for the coup plotters to carry out the coup and subsequent revolting with other whelming support from the masses.

The neighbors of Libya were already enjoying real independence with less elements of non- colonialisms e.g Morocco Tunisia etc.

Support from the army because they were poorly paid and lived in bad conditions during Idirs reign so they supported Gadaffi in order to get rid of Idris government which was not supportive to the army.

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