Kikhya Family

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Political family of Cyrenaica (Libya).

Umar Mansur al-Kikhya was educated at the Ottoman Empire's capital, Constantinople. His first official post under the Turkish administration of Cyrenaica was as qaʾimmaqam (district officer) of Gialo oasis. In 1905, the sultan gave him the title of pasha, and in 1908 he was one of three Cyrenaican representatives in the Ottoman parliament. After the 1911 Italian invasion of Libya, he went into exile in Egypt and practiced law in Alexandria to raise funds for the resistance in Libya. In 1920, he returned to Cyrenaica and became native-affairs adviser to Governor Giacomo di Martino. At a time when Italy was trying to put a Cyrenaican constitution and an elected parliament into effect, Umar Mansur acted as liaison between the Italian authorities and the head of the Sanusi order, Sayyid (Amir) Idris. He was particularly active in the negotiations leading to the accord of al-Rajma in October 1920. When, however, these arrangements broke down in 1923 and Amir Idris al-Sanusi went into exile, Umar Mansur was tried on charges of misleading the Italian government and spent many years in prison and in exile.

After the Allies liberated most of North Africa during World War II, the British brought Umar Mansur back to Benghazi, where he began to campaign for the recognition of Idris as ruler of a self-governing Cyrenaican emirate, assisted by and formally allied to Great Britain. His was an important voice in keeping international public opinion aware of the Cyrenaican case at a time when it could easily have been ignored. On the declaration of Cyrenaican autonomy in July 1949, Umar Mansur was appointed head of the amir's diwan (royal court). In November 1949, he became prime minister of the first Cyrenaican government after his son, Fathi, had resigned as the designated prime minister. He also held the interior, foreign affairs, defense, and education portfolios. Although he initiated a vigorous program, he came into increasing conflict with the younger opposition leaders grouped around the Omar Mukhtar Club, largely on the emotive issue of a purely Cyrenaican independence (which Umar Mansur and others of his generation favored) or the independence of a united Libya. Opposition to his administration also grew within the sole legal political organization, the Cyrenaican National Congress, and in March 1950 he was forced to resign. He was appointed president of the upper house of the all-Libyan parliament, the Senate, in March 1952, but was dismissed in October 1954 for his public criticism of the new base-leasing agreement with the United States.

Omar Mansur's son Fathi first entered public service as justice secretary in the new British military administration in Cyrenaica in 1943. In July 1949, Fathi had been named prime minister of the first Cyrenaican government, which took office in September, during his absence abroad. Fathi never took office, however, resigning on the grounds that his powers would have been too restricted. He returned to his law practice in Egypt.

In 1949, Hajj Rashid al-Kikhya was president of the Cyrenaican Legislative Assembly and was one of seven Cyrenaican representatives on the preparatory committee of twenty-one Libyan members, set up in July 1950, to decide the composition of the Libyan National Assembly and to draft the constitution.

see also cyrenaica; idris al-sayyid muhammad al-sanusi; omar mukhtar club.


Khadduri, Majid. Modern Libya: A Study in Political Development. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1963.

Pelt, Adrian. Libyan Independence and the United Nations: A Case of Planned Decolonization. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1970.

john l. wright