Western leaders welcomed the death of former Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi as the end of despotism, tyranny, dictatorship and ultimately war in the north African country.
As Libyans on the streets of Tripoli and Sirte fired automatic weapons into the air and danced for joy, world leaders began to weigh in on the death of the man who had ruled the oil-rich north African nation for 42 years.
U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon said the reported death of Muammar Qaddafi marked an “historic transition” for Libya.
“The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges. Now is the time for all Libyans to come together,” Ban said at the U.N. headquarters. “Combatants on all sides must lay down their arms and come together in peace. This is a time for rebuilding and healing.”
“Let us recognize immediately that this is only the end of the beginning. The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges. Now is the time for all Libyans to come together.”
Ban said “combatants on all sides must lay down their arms in peace. This is a time for healing and rebuilding, for generosity of spirit, not for revenge.”
“As Libya’s transitional authorities prepare the way for elections and take the many other steps toward building their new nation, inclusion and pluralism must be the watchwords,” the U.N. leader said.
“All Libyans must be able to recognize themselves in the nation’s government and leadership. The high hopes sustained through the long days of revolution and conflict must translate into opportunities and justice for all,” Ban said.
Peaceful start for Libya
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Libya can move ahead from its troubled past if it is true that ousted Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi has been killed.
“If the reports are true, I think it offers a new opportunity for Libya to move forward to the future,” Clinton said as she and a U.S. delegation sat down for talks with senior Pakistani officials in Islamabad.
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel said that Qaddafi’s death means the path is clear for new peaceful start for Libya.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Germany hopes Libya will enter a “new, peaceful and democratic chapter” after the death of former strongman Qaddafi,
“After decades of dictatorship, we hope the people of Libya can open a new, peaceful and democratic chapter for their country,” he said in a statement.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the death of Qaddafi 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 TNC 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.”
End to first phase of revolution
Senior U.S. Senator John McCain said that the death of Qaddafi marked the end of “the first phase” of Libya’s revolution and called for closer ties between Washington and Tripoli.
“The death of Muammar Qaddafi marks an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution. While some final fighting continues, the Libyan people have liberated their country,” the Republican lawmaker said in a statement.
"Now the Libyan people can focus all of their immense talents on strengthening their national unity, rebuilding their country and economy, proceeding with their democratic transition, and safeguarding the dignity and human rights of all Libyans,” said McCain.
“The United States, along with our European allies and Arab partners, must now deepen our support for the Libyan people, as they work to make the next phase of their democratic revolution as successful as the fight to free their country,” he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the death of Muammar Qaddafi was an occasion to remember his victims, while hailing it as a chance for a “democratic future” for Libya.
“I think today is a day to remember all of Colonel Qaddafi’s victims" including those who died in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, Cameron said in a statement outside 10 Downing Street.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that the death of fallen Libyan leader Qaddafi marked the end of 42 years of tyranny and the beginning of democracy in Libya.
“It is the beginning of a new era, the beginning of democracy and reconstruction in Libya,” Juppe told reporters during a visit to New Delhi after Qaddafi was killed in the capture of his last bastion Sirte earlier in the day by transitional government fighters.
“The announcement of the death of Qaddafi and the collapse of Sirte is the end of a very difficult period for the Libyan people and the end of 42 years of tyranny. France is proud to have helped the Libyan people to recover their freedom.”
Warning to dictators
Poland, the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, warned other dictators to learn from the fate of Libyan strongman Qaddafi.
“His fate should be a warning to other dictators in the region and in the world,” a Polish foreign ministry statement said.
The statement said Warsaw would have liked to have Colonel Qaddafi “tried for his crimes before a court in Libya or in The Hague.”
“We hope that his collaborators, wanted for crimes, will soon be brought before the courts,” it added. “We congratulate the Libyan people on bringing to an ultimate end the dictatorship of many years’ standing.”
The death of Qaddafi “marks the end of an era of despotism,” European Union president Herman Van Rompuy said.
The news that Qaddafi died in a raid in Sirte means an end also to the “repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long,” Van Rompuy said in a joint statement with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
The pair said Libya’s National Transitional Council must now “pursue a broad-based reconciliation process which reaches out to all Libyans and enables a democratic, peaceful and transparent transition in the country.”
Looking to the future
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Libyans “can now look to the future.”
In a statement, Ashton said that the death of Qaddafi “brings closure to a tragic period in the lives of so many Libyans.”
“After 10 months of extraordinary sacrifices, the Libyan people can say with pride and confidence that they have shaken off a regime that terrorized and oppressed for more than 40 years.”
She urged the new leadership to build a democratic future in full respect for human rights, saying that “while the crimes of the past must be addressed, the leadership must also seek a path of national reconciliation.”
European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek will visit Libya from Saturday.
“I am happy I will be visiting a country fully liberated from a dictator who has imposed his iron fist for more than 40 years. Now Libya can truly turn the page,” he added.
“We announce to the world that Qaddafi has been killed at the hands of the revolution,” National Transitional Council spokesman Abdel Hafez Ghoga earlier said in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Vatican’s number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, prayed “peace in the country and democracy,” after Libya’s NTC said Qaddafi was dead.
“We have to work for the Libyan people and so that everybody will cooperate towards the reconstruction” of the strife-torn country, he added.
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