Asserting that it’s time Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi makes a decision, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the onus for ending the conflict in Libya is on him, by leaving power.
“It will be up to Qadhafi and his insiders to determine what their next steps are, but we would certainly encourage that they would make the right decision and not only institute a real comprehensive ceasefire, but withdraw from the cities and the military actions and prepare for a transition that does not include Colonel Qadhafi,” Ms. Clinton said.
The Secretary of State was responding to reporters’ questions at joint press availability with her Moroccan counterpart, Taieb Fassi Fihri.
It is very clear that Mr. Qadhafi has lost his legitimacy to govern and the confidence of his people, she said.
“That is the main reason why he should leave power, because he cannot continue to govern and to refuse to meet the legitimate aspirations of his own people,” she asserted.
Over the last several weeks, she said, the international community has taken a number of steps through sanctions, through freezing of accounts, through other accountability measures to put pressure on Mr. Qadhafi and the people around him.
“And added to that is now the military action which is adding even greater pressure. So Qadhafi has a decision to make, and the people around him each have decisions to make. The quickest way for him to end this is to actually serve the Libyan people by leaving,” Mr. Clinton said.
The goal of the UN Security Council resolution is to protect the Libyan people.
“Our military action is, therefore, focused on the goal of protecting civilians, enabling the no-fly zone, enforcing the arms embargo and all that goes with it,” she said.
In the first few days of the military action, Ms. Clinton said, considerable progress has been made.
“It is still early, but we have made significant progress. This week, Qadhafi’s troops were poised to enter Benghazi over the weekend, putting hundreds of thousands of civilians in that city of 700,000 at great risk.
Today, those troops have been pushed back and those civilians are safer as a result.
Coalition efforts have downgraded Mr. Qadhafi’s air defence capabilities and set the conditions for an effective no-fly zone,” she said.
“Now, of course, challenges remain so long as Qadhafi continues to direct his forces to attack his own people.
So the United States will continue to support this mission as we transfer command and control to NATO,” Ms. Clinton said.