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Leaders urge ’tyrant’ Gaddafi to end fight Obama says momentum against Gaddafi has reached a tipping point as world leaders herald a new beginning for Libya.

Monday 22 August 2011

International leaders have urged Muammar Gaddafi to concede defeat in his battle to hold onto power in Libya, as scenes of celebration broke out in central Tripoli after rebels advanced into the heart of the capital.

"Tonight, the momentum against the Gaddafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant," said Barack Obama, the US president, on Monday.

Obama also called on the opposition National Transitional Council (also known as the Transitional National Council), which Washington recognises as Libya’s legitimate governing authority, to demonstrate leadership, respect human rights, preserve the institutions of the Libyan state and move towards democracy.

"The Gaddafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator."

He went on to say that Gaddafi and his followers should "recognise that their rule has come to an end".

"Gaddafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all."

A statement released by the British prime minister David Cameron’s website said: "It is clear from the scenes we are witnessing in Tripoli that the end is near for Gaddafi. He has committed appalling crimes against the people of Libya and he must go now to avoid any further suffering for his own people."

Cameron, who was on a holiday in Cornwall, returned to London on Monday to chair a meeting of the National Security Council on Libya. Alistair Burt, the British foreign minister, stressed that the preservation of civil order was a foremost priority.

South Africa, meanwhile, has denied reports that it would be involved in facilitating Gaddafi’s exit from Libya.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane , the South African international relations and co-operation minister, told a press conference in Johannesburg that her government did not know Gaddafi’s whereabouts but that it knew "for sure he would not ask to come here".

She said that no South African aircraft had landed in Libya, and that the only evacuation aircraft had landed in Tunisia, where they allowed diplomats and South African nationals a way to return home.

Nkoana-Mashabane reiterated South Africa’s commitment to an African Union roadmap for peace, which she said "should be given space to help the people of Libya to help themselves .... when the dust settles".

High level meetings of the AU will be held on August 25 and 26 to discuss the situation in Libya.

’New beginning’

The European Union, meanwhile, said that it was preparing for a post-Gaddafi Libya.
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"We seem to be witnessing the last moments of the Gaddafi regime and we call on Gaddafi to step down without further delay and avoid further bloodshed," Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, said on Monday.

"We have post-Gaddafi planning going on ... we do have a number of scenarios that we have worked in terms of our assistance post-Gaddafi," he said.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary-general, said that it was clear that Gaddafi’s government was crumbling.

"The sooner Gaddafi realises that he cannot win the battle against his own people, the better - so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering."

"The Libyan people have suffered tremendously under Gaddafi’s rule for four decades. Now they have a chance for a new beginning. Now is the time for all threats against civilians to stop, as the United Nations Security Council demanded.

"Now is the time to create a new Libya - a state based on freedom, not fear; democracy, not dictatorship; the will of the many, not the whims of a few."

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, saluted the courage of the rebels as they battled it out on the streets of Tripoli, and reassured them of France’s support for the liberation of their country from what he termed "oppression" and "dictator[ship]".

He also urged Gaddafi to "spare his people of further suffering" and to lay down his arms and surrender.

Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, said that "time has run out" for Gaddafi, and that he controls "not more than 10-15 per cent" of the country.

Hamas also welcomed the entry of rebel troops into Tripoli.

"We hope this will represent a turning point in the history of Libya towards progress and prosperity in implementing the will of the Libyan people," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman.

Tunisia, Libya’s neighbour to the west, expressed support for the rebel-led National Transitional Council.

China’s foreign ministry said on Monday that it respected the choice of Libyan people and hoped that the situation there would stabilise soon.

Tripoli ’demolished’

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president who has frequently expressed support for Gaddafi during the revolt against his rule, condemned NATO, which has backed the rebels by enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya and launching hundreds of air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces, for "demolishing" Tripoli.

"Today we are seeing images of how the democratic European governments - well some of them are [democratic], we know who they are - are practically demolishing Tripoli with their bombs and the supposedly democratic government of the United States, because they feel like it."

"Today they dropped I don’t know how many bombs, and they are dropping them indiscriminately and openly and they are not explaining anything, over schools, hospitals, houses, businesses, factories, farms. This is happening right now."

Source:

Al Jazeera and agencies

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