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Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 3:13 ( 1:13 GMT )
World Leaders Acknowledge Debacle of Al Qathafi, Call on Him to Step Down
22/08/2011 13:58:00
While world leaders from President Obama to Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia have called on Muammar Al Qathafi to step aside, the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, condemned the NATO campaign Sunday, calling it an attempt to claim the country's oil resources.

British prime minister David Cameron has said that Colonel Muammar Al Qathafi's regime is "falling apart and in full retreat" and he should stop fighting now.

Speaking after chairing a meeting of the National Security Council's Libya Group, David Cameron said the UK could be 'proud' of its role in helping the uprising

He went on to say that "the vast majority" of Tripoli is now in rebels' hands and that the NATO mission to protect civilians would continue as long as needed. He further urged a quick transition to a "democratic and inclusive" Libya, and praised British pilots, air staff and ground crew for their "bravery, great professionalism and dedication".

Mr Cameron confirmed there was no confirmation of Al Qathafi's whereabouts but at least two of his sons had been detained. He said the Government would establish a "diplomatic presence" in Tripoli as soon as it was safe to do so.

World leaders have been increasing the pressure on Colonel Muammar Al Qathafi to accept the end of his 42-year rule, after rebels seized control of most of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. He added that Al Qathafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all.

Ahead of the Security Council meeting, UK foreign office minister Alistair Burt said that the first and most important thing is to make sure civil order is preserved, that there's food and power, all the things that people need to make sure their daily lives go on.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was “Welcomed news for all of us who believe brutality should not be allowed to stand," adding that the "situation in Libya is fragile but it's clear that the regime is crumbling".

Hundreds of people - many of them of Libyan descent - this morning flocked to London's Edgware Road to celebrate the Libyan rebels' apparent victory. There has also been jubilation in countries including Egypt and Tunisia, where crowds have gathered in solidarity with Libya's revolutionary forces.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: "We continue to call on Colonel Al Qathafi to get out of the way, and of course we believe that he should face the international charges that are against him."

South Africa, a leading power on the continent to which Al Qathafi devoted much of Libya's wealth and influence, denied it had sent a plane for Al Qathafi or was planning to shelter a leader who has been indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Monday.

Nkoana-Mashabane also denied at a media briefing in Johannesburg that South Africa had sent aircraft to Libya for Al Qathafi's exit and said the Libyan leader’s current whereabouts are not known

Sweden's prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said: "We are watching history." But cited the example of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and warned: "There is a risk for actions of revenge, and uncontrollable violence. These are tribal groups who are fighting against their oppressors. One knows what one is against, but it is not always equally clear what one is for and people can be for different things."

However, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is a staunch ally of Al Qathafi, condemned NATO's role in the dictator's apparent overthrow. "We are seeing images of the democratic governments of Europe, along with the supposedly democratic government of the United States destroying Tripoli with their bombs," he said.

"Today they dropped I don't know how many bombs, and they're falling in a shameless and open way," Mr. Chavez said. The bombs were falling, he said, "on schools, hospitals, homes, work places, factories, farm fields at this very moment. They're practically demolishing Tripoli with their bombs. It's the excuse to intervene and seize a country and its riches."

Meanwhile, NATO has just released its daily operational media update for August 21. It said that 126 sorties were flown on Sunday, with 46 being strike sorties.

NATO says it hit three command and control facilities, one military facility, two radar facilities, nine surface-to-air missile launchers, one tank and two armed vehicles in Tripoli.

It also hit one radar facility near Bin Ghashir and five surface-to-air missiles near al-Azizyah, while 15 NATO ships have been enforcing the arms embargo on Libya in the Mediterranean. Fourteen vessels were hailed and two boardings conducted on August 21.
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Date: 22/08/2011 16:09:58

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