Merkel: Gaddafi speech was 'very, very frightening'

Arab League bars Libya from meetings; US condemns 'appaling' violence in Libya, calls on Gaddafi's regime to respect rights of citizens.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS, JPOST.COM STAFF
February 22, 2011 20:37
3 minute read.
Libya body parts

Libya body parts 520. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's speech on Tuesday as "very, very frightening," adding that he had declared war on the Libyan people, Reuters reported.

The German chancellor said that if Gaddafi does not end the violence in his country, she would support sanctions against Tripoli, according to the report.

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Earlier Tuesday, the Arab League suspended Libya's participation in its council meetings, citing the North African country's crackdown on protesters.

The Arab League “condemns crimes against the current peaceful popular protests and demonstrations in several Libyan cities,” Secretary General Amr Moussa told reporters in Cairo today after the group met. He said the security forces’ use of live rounds, heavy weapons and foreign mercenaries is a “grave breach of human rights.”

The organization calls for “respecting Libyans’ right to freedom of protest and expression” as they demand democratic change, he said. Humanitarian aid must be allowed into the country, the Arab League leader said.

Libya will be barred from taking part in the Arab League’s meetings until leader Muammar Gaddafi responds to the organization’s demands, Moussa said.



The Obama administration also condemned the "appalling" violence in Libya on Tuesday, where security forces are unleashing a bloody crackdown on protesters demanding the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. A top lawmaker said the US should consider imposing new sanctions on the regime and called for foreign energy companies to immediately shut down operations in the oil-rich North African nation.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called on Gaddafi’s regime to respect the universal rights of its citizens and allow peaceful protests to take place. Echoing earlier White House statements about anti-government protests in Egypt, he said the future of Libya needs to be decided by the Libyan people.

"We offer our condolences to families of the victims in Libya of this appalling violence," Carney told reporters traveling with US President Barack Obama to Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that the violent crackdown was "cowardly" and "beyond despicable." He urged US and international oil companies to immediately suspend their Libyan operations until attacks on civilians stop.

He also called on the Obama administration to consider re-imposing sanctions against Libya that were lifted by former US president George W. Bush after Gaddafi renounced terrorism and abandoned development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. He said Arab League and African Union should investigate reports of atrocities.

"These are concrete steps that must be taken now and in the days ahead to show that the world will respond with actions not just words when a regime wields reprehensible violence against its own people," said Kerry.

The White House has sometimes tapped Kerry to float possible foreign policy strategies Asked about Kerry’s suggestions, Carney said, "We are looking at his proposal but right now we are focusing on ending the bloodshed."

Gaddafi appeared on state television Tuesday and vowed to fight protesters and to die a martyr. Despite eyewitness accounts of soldiers, including alleged mercenaries, opening fire on protesters in numerous cities, he said he had not ordered the demonstrations suppressed with violence. But he said those agitating for change deserved the death penalty under Libyan law.

Citing the unrest and potential for further violence, the State Department on Monday ordered non-essential American diplomats and the families of all workers at the US Embassy in Tripoli to leave Libya. It also urged Americans to stay away from the country and said that US citizens already in Libya should either make plans to depart or seek shelter in a safe place.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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