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Time For Gadhafi To Go

Protesters deface a poster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the city of Zawiyah, February 27, 2011

The Libyan people are clearly sending as strong a message as they are capable of doing that it is time for [Moammar] Gadhafi to go.

"The United States and the American people support the aspirations and rights of the Libyan people," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "They are clearly sending as strong a message as they are capable of doing that it is time for [Moammar] Gadhafi to go. We think he must go as soon as possible without further bloodshed and violence."

The United States is well aware of the atrocities committed against the Libyan people by the Gadhafi regime. And the United Nations Security Council resolution passed unanimously on February 26th makes clear there will be accountability for crimes against humanity and war crimes and other atrocities that are being perpetrated against the Libyan people.

The United States has taken action to limit the ability of senior officials of the Gadhafi regime to travel. President Barack Obama signed an executive order to freeze assets and impose financial sanctions on members of the regime responsible for abuses against their own people and the suspension of the very limited defense trade the U.S. has had with Libya.

The Security Council resolution also opens the door for humanitarian relief, which is going to be essential with the numbers of people fleeing across the borders, particularly into Tunisia and Egypt. Those two countries are facing huge humanitarian demands in addition to internally displaced people.

There is also a message in the Security Council resolution to the countries in the region: You must stop mercenaries, you must stop those who may be going to Libya to engage in violence or other criminal acts.

The change sweeping across the region is coming from inside societies. It is not coming from the outside. "But each country is different," said Secretary Clinton, "and each country must deal with the demands of their own people and pursue paths that will lead toward change."

The United States supports those who are pursuing the path of reform. In particular, King Hamad of Bahrain and King Abdullah of Jordan are engaged in meaningful outreach and efforts to try to bring about the change that will be in line with the needs of their countries. So this is a period of great historical challenge and opportunity, and the United States, said Secretary Clinton, is pursuing policies that are in the best interests of the United States and also in the best interests of the region and the world.