US, Australia call on Gaddafi to step aside immediately

US, EU, NATO begin post-Gaddafi planning; UK fears post-Saddam type anarchy could break out in Tripoli; Hamas welcomes rebel progress.

By REUTERS
August 22, 2011 10:57
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [file photo]

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi dishevled sad greasy 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen)

International leaders reacted late Sunday and Monday to developments in Libya that saw rebels enter and take control of most of the capital, with some calling on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down voluntarily and others demanding he be tried in the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

US President Barack Obama said on Sunday that Gaddafi's rule was showing signs of collapse and called on the Libyan leader to relinquish power to avoid further casualties.

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"The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Muammar Gaddafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end," Obama said in a statement. "Gaddafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all."

The United States has played a supporting role in the NATO campaign that started in March to protect rebels, protesters and civilians from attacks by Gaddafi's forces, providing technical support and intelligence to help air strikes.

Obama has said the United States got involved to shield the Libyan people from humanitarian crisis, and pledged in his Sunday evening statement to stay involved after Gaddafi goes.

He called for the Transitional National Council rebels in Libya to take control upon Gaddafi's exit and do everything possible to avoid further casualties, preserve the remaining government institutions and commit to pursuing real democracy after decades of rule by the often erratic Libyan strongman.



"At this pivotal and historic time, the TNC should continue to demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya," Obama said in the statement issued during his annual holiday in Martha's Vineyard, an island near Boston.

"The United States will continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC. We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy," he said.

Australia also called for Gaddafi to step down and said he should face an international court for human rights crimes as his 41-year regime neared collapse.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it was clear rebel forces were finally about to take control of the country as Libyans took to the streets of the capital to celebrate the end of Gaddafi's iron-fisted rule.

"We continue to call on Colonel Gaddafi to get out of the way and of course we believe he should face the international charges that are against him," Gillard told reporters at parliament in Canberra.

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"We will as a nation continue to support the people of Libya on what we want to see as a journey to peace and democracy," she said.

Australia, a close US ally, was one of the leading voices for a no-fly zone over Libya.

The International Criminal Court in the Hague issued an arrest warrant in June for Gaddafi, citing crimes against humanity after his government put down protests by killing civilians.

Warrants were also issued for Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, with all three accused by the court of masterminding the campaign to subdue the fledgling rebellion.

The International Criminal Court prosecutor said on Sunday Saif al-Islam, Muammar Gaddafi's son, had been detained in Libya.

"Saif was captured in Libya," prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters. "We have confidential information from different sources that we have within Libya confirming this.

"It is very important to make clear there is an obligation to surrender Saif to the ICC in accordance with the Security Council resolution."

Libyan rebels said earlier that they had detained Saif and Gaddafi's eldest son Mohammed Al-Gaddafi.

Hamas also welcomed the seeming approaching victory by Libyan rebels as they took control of most of Tripoli on Sunday night.

Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, "Hamas welcomes the entry by Libyan revolutionary fighters into the capital Tripoli and congratulates them on this great victory."

He added that the organization hopes the progress "will represent a turning point in the history of Libya toward progress and prosperity in implementing the will of the Libyan people."

EU, US begin planning for post-Gaddafi Libya

The European Union is actively planning for a Libya without Muammar Gaddafi following the rapid advance of rebel forces over the weekend.

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

The EU urged the rebels to act responsibly and protect civilians as they push into the capital Tripoli.

Britain urged the rebel Libyan National Transitional Council to maintain order and not pursue reprisals after rebel fighters swept into the heart of the capital Tripoli on Monday.

Fears surface that rebels aren't ready to lead

Britain, which has played a lead role in international efforts to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, wants to avoid a repeat of the chaos and bloodshed in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

"The first and most important thing is to make sure that civil order is preserved, that there is food, that there is water, there is power -- all the things that people need to make sure their daily lives go on," UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt told BBC TV.

"The evidence of what has happened in other cities would suggest that when the National Transitional Council has been in charge instead of the Gaddafi regime things have worked perfectly well, perfectly smoothly," he added.

Western powers have been intensifying planning for post-Gaddafi Libya in recent days in response to a rapid succession of rebel victories around Tripoli, according to officials involved in the talks.

The NATO alliance on Friday authorized formal planning for post-Gaddafi Libya and TNC members were due to meet officials from the United States, Britain, Jordan and United Arab Emirates to discuss "day-after" planning in Dubai this week.

The White House believes that unless transition plans are firmed up quickly, post-Gaddafi Libya may be chaotic and it may be impossible to fulfill the West's promise to protect Libya's people from humanitarian crisis.

Some US and European officials fear Libya's opposition movement is not fully ready to govern. Their hope is that enough of Gaddafi's institutions will remain intact to enable the formation of a transitional government that can maintain a measure of civil order.


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