call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama took his most direct position yet on the escalating violence in Libya.
“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,” it said.
Obama’s stance comes after he signed an executive order Friday freezing assets held by Qaddafi and four of his children in the United States. The Treasury Department said the sanctions against Qaddafi, three of his sons and a daughter also apply to the Libyan government.
Violence in Libya continued to spiral out of control Saturday, as the embattled regime passed out guns to civilian supporters, set up checkpoints and sent armed patrols roving the terrorized capital to try to maintain control of Qaddafi’s stronghold and quash dissent as rebels consolidate control elsewhere in the North African nation.
he White House readout of the Merkel call:
The President spoke today with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, as he has done with many of his international counterparts this week, to discuss the situation in Libya and coordinate our urgent efforts to respond to developments and ensure appropriate accountability.
The President and the Chancellor shared deep concerns about the Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights and brutalization of its people.
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 leaders reaffirmed their support for the Libyan people’s demand for universal rights and a government that is responsive to their aspirations, and agreed that Gadhafi’s government must be held accountable.
They discussed appropriate and effective ways for the international community to respond. The President welcomed ongoing efforts by our allies and partners, including at the United Nations and by the European Union, to develop and implement strong measures.
The President and the Chancellor also discussed the global economic recovery and the need for effective tools to promote economic stability in the Eurozone.
Here is Clinton’s statement:
The United States strongly condemns the ongoing violence and human rights violations committed by the government of Libya against its own people. As President Obama said, these actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. They must stop.
We are moving quickly on a series of steps to hold the Libyan government accountable for its violation of human rights and to mobilize a strong response from the international community.
Last night the United States took action to limit the ability of senior officials of the Gadhafi regime to travel. As Secretary of State, I signed an order directing the Department to revoke U.S. visas held by these officials, others responsible for human rights violations in Libya, and their immediate family members. As a matter of policy, new visa applications will be denied.
This step followed President Obama’s Executive Order freezing assets and imposing financial sanctions on members of the regime responsible for abuses against their own people and the suspension of the very limited defense trade we have had with Libya, including pending sales of spare military parts and other licenses allowing private companies to sell military equipment there.
The United States is also working with our friends and partners to mobilize a strong and unified response from the international community to hold accountable the perpetrators of these unacceptable violations of universal human rights. This afternoon I continued close consultations with our European allies, including EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. Negotiations are underway at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution that would impose new sanctions and restrictions. On Monday, I will meet with a number of counterparts in Geneva and address the UN Human Rights Council, which on Friday recommended suspending Libya’s membership. We are also working with partners to determine how to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need. Consistent with the President’s guidance, we will continue to look at the full range of options to hold the Libyan government accountable and support the Libyan people.
We have always said that the Qadhafi government’s future is a matter for the Libyan people to decide, and they have made themselves clear. 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. Moammar Gadhafi has lost the confidence of his people and he should go without further bloodshed and violence. The Libyan people deserve a government that is responsive to their aspirations and that protects their universally recognized human rights.