When Libyan rebels shot and killed toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Thurday, they brought an end to the rule and life of one of the modern world's most controversial — and colorful — authoritarian rulers.
Gaddafi, who once had himself crowned the "king of kings of Africa," and on another occasion the "Guide to the era of the masses," erratically, and sometimes brutally, led Libya for more than 42 years. He managed one of Africa's biggest oil producing countries and leveraged that power on the world stage. He also regularly drew headlines for his sense of fashion, which was marked by bright colors, long, flowing robes and flashy sunglasses.
Gaddafi's hold on power began to disintegrate in February when Arab Spring-style protests erupted in the eastern city of Benghazi. Gaddafi security forces met the protesters with violence, leading civilians to take up arms and form a rebel army. The rebels battled Gaddafi's well-armed forces for months before finally taking Tripoli, the capital, last month with the help of NATO airstrikes. Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown and where the leader made his final stand, fell to rebel forces on Thursday.