Obama Says Libya’s Gadhafi Era is Over

Posted August 23rd, 2011 at 2:50 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama says Moammar Gadhafi's rule is “coming to an end” as more Arab nations joined in recognizing the Libyan opposition as the legitimate representative of the country's people.

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, and not to seek justice through violent reprisals.

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

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 3-decade rule earlier this year.

The Arab League, the Palestinian Authority and Morocco also confirmed their support of the opposition. Morocco's state-run MAP news agency said Foreign Minister Taib Fass Fihri will travel Tuesday to Benghazi.

Earlier Monday, U.N. 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. Mr. Ban said he will hold urgent meetings on Libya this week with major organizations including the African Union, the European Union and the Arab League.

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

French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited the head of Libya's opposition to 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.

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 asked for asylum in South Africa.

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.

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.