Obama Says Libya’s Gadhafi Era is Over

Posted August 22nd, 2011 at 3:50 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama says Moammar Gadhafi's rule is “coming to an end” as he pressed the Libyan leader to relinquish power while urging rebels not to seek justice through violent reprisals.

The president called on Mr. Gadhafi to prevent further bloodshed and instruct loyalist forces who continue fighting “to lay down their arms for the sake of Libya.” He also called on opposition forces to build a democratic government through “peaceful, inclusive and just” measures.

In his first appearance since the rebel push into the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Mr. Obama said the U.S. would be a friend and partner of Libya's Transitional National Council by supporting a peaceful transition to democracy.

He called Moammar Gadhafi a tyrant who had denied his people basic human rights.

Earlier Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a “smooth transition” and said the U.N. stands ready to provide the Libyan people with post-conflict assistance. He said he will hold urgent meetings on Libya this week with major organizations including the African Union, the EU and the Arab League.

In Paris, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman told VOA that Mr. Gadhafi's “time is over in Libya.”

France said the head of Libya's opposition will travel to Paris in the next few days. France was the first country to recognize the opposition council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

Neighboring Egypt formally recognized Libya's rebel national council on Monday as the representative of the Libyan people. Libyans began their uprising after an Egyptian revolt that ended President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule earlier this year.

Russia said Monday it hoped the rebel takeover in Tripoli would stop the “drawn-out bloodshed” that has brought suffering to the Libyan people. The Russian Foreign Ministry encouraged the international community to stay out of Libya's internal affairs.

China said Monday it “respects the choice of the Libyan people” and hopes stability returns to the country quickly.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the rebel advance into Tripoli has helped the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East establish the beginnings of democracy in the region. He said London soon will be able to unfreeze foreign Libyan assets for use by the Libyan people.

South Africa denied reports it had sent a plane to Libya to evacuate Mr. Gadhafi. Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Mr. Gadhafi has not and will not ask for asylum in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Libya's ambassador to the African Union took down the Gadhafi-era flag from Tripoli's embassy in Addis Ababa and replaced it with the pre-Gadhafi flag used by rebels.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court confirmed the rebels have detained Mr. Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam. The world court was quick to remind the rebels that they have “an obligation to surrender Seif to the ICC.”

The court has issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Gadhafi, his son and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, all charged with crimes against humanity.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday was one of the rare voices to criticize the events in Libya. He condemned NATO's airstrikes in the country. Mr. Chavez has long been a staunch defender of Mr. Gadhafi and has denounced the popular uprising, claiming it is an oil grab by Western powers.