World leaders speak out as Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule appears to crumble
As Muammar Gaddafi appealed on Sunday night for his people to "save Tripoli" from a rebel offensive, world leaders spoke out to doom his four-decade-old rule.
Libya is “slipping from the grasp of a tyrant” now that rebel forces have moved into the capital Tripoli, US President Barack Obama said in a statement.
“Tonight, the momentum against the Gaddafi regime has reached a tipping point,” Obama, on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, said. “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.”
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary- general of the North Atlatic Treaty Organization, said Gaddafi’s regime was visibly coming to an end.
“The Gaddafi regime is clearly crumbling. The sooner Gaddafi realizes that he cannot win the battle against his own people, the better - so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering,” he said in a statement on the NATO website.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron urged Gaddafi to leave now to avoid further deaths.
“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.”
Autralian Prime Minister Julia Gillard called for Gaddafi to face an international court for human rights crimes. 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.
"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.
"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.
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 ICC of masterminding the campaign to subdue the fledgling rebellion.
Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, blasted the West for its part in Gaddafi's downfall and called on his country to pray for the Libyan people.
"Today we are seeing images of the democratic governments of Europe, along with the supposedly democratic government of the United States destroying Tripoli with their bombs," he said.
"Today they dropped I don't know how many bombs, and they're falling in a shameless and open way... on schools, hospitals, homes, work places, factories, farm fields at this very moment. They're practically demolishing Tripoli with their bombs.
"Let's pray to God for the Libyan people."