World leaders: Gaddafi death turns a new page for Libya

Sarkozy says now is the time for "reconciliation in unity, freedom"; Merkel: Path is now clear for fresh political start, in peace.

October 20, 2011 18:44
3 minute read.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron

UK Prime Minister David Cameron 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)


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World leaders responded to the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Thursday with cautious yet optimistic hopes for chances of a fresh start and brighter future for the people of Libya.

British Prime Minister David Cameron responded to the news at a brief news conference at Downing Street just hours after news of Gaddafi's death broke. "People in Libya today have an even greater chance after this news of building themselves a strong and democratic future," he said.

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Libya timeline: From protests to the death of a dictator
Libyan gov't forces say complete capture of Sirte

"I'm proud of the role Britain has played and I pay tribute to the bravery of the Libyans who helped liberate their country," Cameron added. "We should also remember the many Libyans who died at the hands of this dictator," he said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Gaddafi's death turned a page for the Libyan people and signaled the start of a democratic process.

"The liberation of Sirte must signal...the start of a process agreed by the [NTC] to establish a democratic system in which all groups in the country have their place and where fundamental freedoms are guaranteed," Sarkozy said in a statement.

Sarkozy, who spearheaded military intervention in Libya, said now was the time for "reconciliation in unity and freedom."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Libya was now free to make a fresh start and begin peaceful democratic reforms.

"This brings to an end a bloody war that Gaddafi waged against his own people. The path is now finally clear for a fresh political start, in peace. Germany is relieved and very happy about this," Merkel said in a statement.

She said Libya should now carry out political reforms to "ensure the achievements of the Arab Spring cannot be undone."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the day of Gaddafi's death an historic one for the Libyan people.

"We have all seen the reports of the death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the end of fighting in Sirte and other cities," the UN chief told a UN development conference. "Clearly, this day marks an historic transition for Libya."

"Combatants on all sides must lay down their arms in peace," he added.

The European Union also urged Libya's interim rulers to push for a broad-based reconciliation in the country following Gaddafi's death.

The president of EU council of member states, Herman van Rompuy, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said dialogue between all elements of Libyan society was needed for a successful transition to democracy.

"The reported death of Muammar Gaddafi marks the end of an era of despotism and repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long," they said in a statement.

"We call on the National Transitional Council to pursue a broad based reconciliation process which reaches out to all Libyans and enables a democratic, peaceful and transparent transition," they said.

Israel had no formal response to Gaddafi's death. Back in March, however, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presented his view of the Libyan leader during a CNN interview.

"Gaddafi is no friend of Israel. He's not a friend of the Jewish people," he said. "This is a man who helped explode civilian airlines in the skies. He's fostered terrorism. He's done a lot of terrible things. So I don't think anybody would be sorry to see him go. I wouldn't."

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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