The Kingdom of Libya, (المملكة الليبية) originally called the United Kingdom of Libya came into existence on December 24, 1951 and lasted until a coup d'état on September 1, 1969 which turned the country into a republic.
Idris as-Senussi, the Emir of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica and the leader of the Senussi Muslim Sufi order, represented Libya in the UN negotiations, and on December 24, 1951, Libya declared its independence with representatives from Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan declaring a union with the country being called the United Kingdom of Libya with Idris as-Senussi being offered the crown. In accordance with the constitution the new country had a federal government with the three states of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan having autonomy. The kingdom also had two capital cities Tripoli and Benghazi. A couple of years after independence on March 28, 1953 Libya joined the Arab League.
Following independence Libya faced a number of problems. There were no colleges in the country and just sixteen college graduates. Also the country had just three lawyers with not a single Libyan physician, engineer, surveyor or pharmacist in the kingdom. It was also estimated that only 250,000 Libyans were literate and that 10% of the population was blind, with eye diseases such as trachoma widespread. In light of these Britain provided a number of civil servants to staff the government.
In April 1955 oil exploration started in the kingdom with its first oil fields being discovered in 1959. The first exports began in 1963 with the discovery of oil helping to transform the Libyan economy.
As was the case with other African nations following independence, the Italian settlers in Libya held many of the best jobs, owned the best farmland and ran the most successful businesses. The monarchy came to an end on September 1, 1969 when a group of military officers led by Muammar al-Gaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris while he was in Turkey for medical treatment. The revolutionaries arrested the army chief of staff and the head of security in the kingdom. After hearing about the coup King Idris dismissed it as "unimportant" while it was reported the Crown Prince Hasan as-Senussi had announced his support for the new regime.
The coup pre-empted King Idris' instrument of abdication dated August 4, 1969 to take effect September 2, 1969 in favour of the Crown Prince who had been appointed regent following the king's departure for Turkey. Following the overthrow of the monarchy the country was renamed the Libyan Arab Republic.
The kingdom's parliament consisted of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both chambers met and closed at the same time.
The Senate was made up of twenty-four members appointed by the king. A seat in the Senate was restricted to Libyan nationals of at least forty years. The king appointed the President of the Senate, with the Senate itself electing two vice presidents which the king would then need to approve. The president and vice president served for a fixed two-year term. At the end of this term, the king was free to reappoint the president or replace them with someone else while the vice presidents faced re-election. The term of office for a senator was eight years. A senator could not serve for consecutive terms but could be reappointed in the future. Half of all the senators were to be replaced every four years.
Members of the House of Representatives were elected through universal suffrage following the constitutional change on April 25, 1963 with women previously not able to vote. The number of deputies in the house was determined on the basis of one deputy for twenty thousand people. Elections were held every four years unless parliament was dissolved earlier. The deputies were responsible for electing a speaker and two vice-speakers for the house.
The King was responsible for appointing and removing Prime Minister's. The king also appointed and dismissed ministers based on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers were responsible for the direction of the internal and external affairs of the country and the council were accountable to the House of Representatives. Once a prime minister was removed from office this automatically resulted in dismissal of all the other ministers.
Following independence the kingdom was organised into three provinces Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania, which are the three historic regions of Libya. Autonomy in the provinces was exercised through provincial governments and legislatures.
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