World Leaders Praise Libyan Rebel Advances

Posted August 22nd, 2011 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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World leaders are applauding the rebel advance into Libya's capital, Tripoli, as a step toward ending violence in the country and beginning a democratic future.

The United States, the European Union, Britain and Italy all have said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's rule is coming to an end, and they have urged the Libyan leader to step down in order to avoid more bloodshed.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a “smooth transition” Monday 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 leaders from major organizations, including the African Union, the EU and the Arab League.

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

France says the head of Libya's opposition group will travel to Paris in the next few days. France was the first country to recognize the rebel opposition's Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

Egypt formally recognized Libya's rebel national council on Monday. Libyan rebels began their uprising after an Egyptian revolt ended President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule earlier this year.

Russia said Monday it hoped the rebel takeover 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.

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.

The top U.S. Middle East official, Jeff Feltman, told ABC News Monday from Cairo that Mr. Gadhafi is now “part of Libya's past” and that the rebels are “clearly winning.” He said Libyans now need to look to build a better future.

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

U.S. President Barack Obama called on Mr. Gadhafi Sunday to “relinquish power once and for all.” He said the momentum against Mr. Gadhafi had reached a tipping point.

Mr. Obama also said the United States will continue to work with the international community to support a peaceful transition to democracy in Libya, and he urged the opposition TNC to include the interests of all the Libyan people.

South Africa denied reports that 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 has declared an end to Mr. Gadhafi's rule. He took down the Gadhafi-era flag from Tripoli's embassy in Addis Ababa and replaced it with the pre-Gadhafi flag used by rebels in a gesture symbolizing the power change.

The International Criminal Court at The Hague confirmed that 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 ICC 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.