OBITUARY: MUSTAFA BEN HALIM, LIBYA’S THIRD PRIME MINISTER, DIES AGED 100
Mustafa Ben Halim, the former Prime Minister during the Senussi led constitutional monarchy period of the Kingdom of Libya, has passed away in the United Arab Emirates aged 100.
He was the third prime minister of Libya after its independence in 1951, and was commissioned to form the government in 1954 before submitting his resignation in 1957.
Mustafa Ben Halim had previously been in charge of the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before he was appointed prime minister.
The centenarian authored a number of books throughout his storied lifetime, most notably the “Folded Pages of Libya’s Political History” and “Libya: The Resurrection of a Nation and the Fall of a State.”
According to his family members, Mustafa Ben Halim passed away on Tuesday, December 4, in the United Arab Emirates.
Mustafa Ben Halim was prohibited from entering his country Libya during the era of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi but had returned from exile in 2011 following the fall of the late dictator.
The late Libyan politician was born in 1921 in Alexandria, Egypt, after his father escaped from being arrested in Italian occupied Libya for cooperating with the Libyan freedom fighters led by Omar Mukhtar. He studied engineering in Egypt and graduated in 1946, before returning to his country of origin Libya.
Mustafa Ben Halim also held the lead posts at the Ministry of Communications until December 1954, and then held the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After his resignation, Libya’s King appointed him as a special advisor with the rank of a prime minister. He was then sent to Paris to take over the mission of Libya’s ambassador to France from 1958 to 1960, becoming Libya’s first ambassador to Paris where he was sent to facilitate the negotiations between the Algerian FLN and the de Gaulle government.
During his tenure as Transport Minister and Prime Minister, he oversaw the establishment of the University of Libya in Benghazi as well as the Libyan Central Bank. He also played a central role in Libya’s Petroleum Law that lead to the early discovery of oil in the country.
Mustafa Ben Halim upon his return to Benghazi, Libya, in 2011 following decades in exile. (Supplied)
Consequently, Mustafa Ben Halim moved away from political activity and turned his focus on entrepreneurship, but in the spring of 1964 King Idris summoned him for his assistance in reforming the structures of the Libyan state, but the failure of these reforms prompted him to move away from politics once again.
The Libyan military coup of September 1, 1969 coincided with his and his family’s presence in Europe. He did not return to Libya until after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011. He visited the city of Benghazi, where the National Transitional Council of the Libyan Revolution held an official reception for him as a former prime minister.
“My father was very affected when first returned to Libya, specifically to the al-Mahkama square, and saw pictures of all the young martyrs who died during the revolution in the fight against Gaddafi. It was a very painful visit,” his son Amr Ben Halim told Al Arabiya in a phone interview.