Obama quietly calls on Libya’s Gaddafi to step down

February 27th, 2011 - 6:49 pm ICT by BNO News  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday quietly called on Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to resign amid massive anti-government protests, the White House said.

Obama made the comments during a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to a readout provided by the White House. It was the first clear sign from Obama that Gaddafi should step down as Libyan forces continue to use deadly force against unarmed protesters.

“The President and the Chancellor shared deep concerns about the Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights and brutalization of its people,” the White House said. “The President stated that when a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.”

The White House said Obama and Merkel reaffirmed their support for the Libyan people’s demand for universal rights and a government that is “responsive to their aspirations.” They also agreed Gaddafi’s government must be held accountable.

Libya has been plunged into chaos as massive anti-government protests continue nationwide, resulting in a violent crackdown by security forces which included aerial bombardments on protesters. At least 300 people and as many as more than 1,000 people have been killed in the uprising, but confirmed information has been difficult to obtain due to reporting restrictions by Libyan authorities.

Also on Saturday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions against Libyan authorities, slapping the country with an arms embargo and freezing the assets of its leaders, while referring the ongoing violent repression of civilian demonstrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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