Gaddafi must leave, says Obama

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has lost legitimacy and must leave office, US Prez has said.

Last Updated: Mar 04, 2011, 19:30 PM IST

Washington: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
has lost legitimacy and must leave office, US President Barack
Obama has said and authorised the use of military aircrafts
for humanitarian purposes in the strife-torn African nation.

"Muammar Gaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead, and he
must leave," Obama said at a White House news conference.

The US president said, the "violence must stop...
Those who perpetrate violence against the Libyan people will
be held accountable... The aspirations of the Libyan people
for freedom, democracy and dignity must be met."

"I have approved the use of US military aircraft to
help move Egyptians who have fled to the Tunisian border to
get back home to Egypt,"
Tens of thousands of people from many different
countries are fleeing Libya.

"We commend the governments of Tunisia and Egypt for
their response, even as they go through their own political
transitions," he added.

Obama said he has also authorised USAID to charter
additional civilian aircraft to help people from other
countries find their way home.

"We are supporting the efforts of international
organisations to evacuate people as well," he said.

He has also directed USAID to send humanitarian
assistance teams to the Libyan border, so that they can work
with the United Nations, NGOs and other international partners
inside Libya to address the urgent needs of the Libyan people.

With respect to America`s willingness to engage
militarily, Obama said he has instructed the Department of
Defense, and the State Department to examine is full range of
options.

"I don`t want us hamstrung. I want us to be making our
decisions based on what`s going to be best for the Libyan
people in consultation with the international community," he
said.

"We are doing that not just here in the United States
within our own agencies, but we`re also doing it in
consultation with NATO," he said.

"There may be situations in which Gaddafi is hunkered
down in his compound but the economy -- or food-distribution
systems in Tripoli, for example, start deteriorating. And
we`re going to have to figure out how do we potentially get
food in there," Obama said.

"So there are a whole range of options, military and
non-military, that we`re examining. We we`ll be making these
decisions based on what`s best for the Libyan people and how
can we make sure that we`re minimising the harm to innocent
civilians during this process," he said.

"Throughout all this, we will continue to send a clear
message that it`s time for Gaddafi to go," Obama said.

"My approach throughout the convulsions that have
swept through the Middle East is, number one, no violence
against citizens; number two, that we stand for freedom and
democracy. And in the situation in Libya, what you`ve seen is,
number one, violence against citizens, and the active urging
of violence against unarmed citizens by Gaddafi," he said.

"So let me just be very unambiguous about this.
Colonel Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave. That
is good for his country. It is good for his people. It`s the
right thing to do," Obama said.

"Those around him have to understand that violence
that they perpetrate against innocent civilians will be
monitored and they will be held accountable for it.

So to the
extent that they are making calculations in their own minds
about which way history is moving, they should know history is
moving against Colonel Gaddafi and that their support for him
and their willingness to carry out orders that are direct
violence against citizens is something that ultimately they
will be held accountable for," he said.

PTI