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World Leaders Call for End of Violence, Start of Democracy in Libya

August 22, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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RAY SUAREZ: World leaders, including President Obama, today appealed to Gadhafi to prevent further bloodshed in his country. And they urged opposition forces to build a democratic government through peaceful means.

Five months after the NATO bombing campaign began, some of the leaders who ordered the airstrikes struck cautious notes today, as Gadhafi’s rule appeared to be near its end. President Obama spoke from his vacation spot on Martha’s Vineyard this afternoon.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The situation is still very fluid. There remains a degree of uncertainty, and there are still regime elements who pose a threat.

But this much is clear: The Gadhafi regime is coming to an end and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.

RAY SUAREZ: Mr. Obama said the United States would remain engaged diplomatically and militarily to ensure a smooth transfer of power, as the Transitional National Council, or TNC, begins to take charge.

BARACK OBAMA: The United States will be a friend and a partner.

We will join with allies and partners to continue the work of safeguarding the people of Libya. Our diplomats will work with the TNC as they ensure that the institutions of the Libyan state are protected. And we will support them with the assets of the Gadhafi regime that were frozen earlier this year.

RAY SUAREZ: The president also praised NATO and the alliance approach he advocated after deciding action should be taken. Mr. Obama had shown some reticence, initially, to employ military power in Libya, but decided to use force after an extensive internal administration debate

BARACK OBAMA: Although the efforts in Libya are not yet over, NATO has once more proven that it is the most capable alliance in the world and that its strength comes from both its firepower and the power of our democratic ideals.

And the Arab members of our coalition have stepped up and shown what can be achieved when we act together as equal partners. Their actions sent a powerful message about the unity of our effort and our support for the future of Libya.

RAY SUAREZ: The president reserved a final word for the people who began and are on the verge of finishing this latest Arab revolution.

BARACK OBAMA: Finally, the Libyan people, your courage and character have been unbreakable in the face of a tyrant. An ocean divides us, but we are joined in the basic human longing for freedom, for justice and for dignity. Your revolution is your own, and your sacrifices have been extraordinary.

RAY SUAREZ: British Prime Minister David Cameron stepped outside 10 Downing Street earlier in the day.

DAVID CAMERON, British prime minister: Our task now is to do all we can to support the will of the Libyan people, which is for an effective transition to a free, democratic and inclusive Libya.

RAY SUAREZ: In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said a meeting would be convened in Paris next week to begin planning for the stabilization of Libya, a country essentially without a civil service or functional institutions of government.

ALAIN JUPPE, French foreign minister (through translator): We must certainly remain cautious. The fighting isn’t over. It falls to me to once again appeal to the last supporters of Gadhafi to stop fighting and lay down their weapons, as the days of the regime are now numbered.

RAY SUAREZ: At the United Nations, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said standing international criminal warrants for Gadhafi and his sons, three of whom are in custody, should be served.

BAN KI-MOON, United Nations secretary general: It is crucial now for the conflict to end with no further loss of life and retribution. I welcome the assurances given by the chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mr. Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, that extreme care will be taken to protect people and public institutions and to maintain law and order.

RAY SUAREZ: There was late word today that a fourth Gadhafi son, Khamis, may have been killed along with the veteran intelligence chief of Libya.