Obama asks Gaddafi and Gbagbo to step down

United States President, Barack Obama, Saturday said intense pressure was being mounted on embattled Libyan leader, Col. Moammar Gaddafi, to toe the path of honour to cede power to his people.

The US president also urged Cote d’Ivoire’s disputed leader, Laurent Gbagbo, to step down in the interest of peace, since the post-election clashes were almost pushing the country to the brink of civil war.

Obama, who made the call during his weekly radio and Internet address, aired one week after the US-led military action began, urged Gaddafi to have a rethink, as Libyans have come to terms with the fact that the US stands “with those who hope for a future where they can determine their own destiny.”

The Associated Press reports that President Obama lamented that the Libyan leader “has lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to rule, and the aspirations of the Libyan people must be realised.”

His remarks, served as a warm-up for his planned speech to the nation tomorrow, where he is expected to explain his decision to launch attacks against Gaddafi’s rule.

However, lawmakers from both parties have complained that the president did not clarify explicitly US’s participation in the mission in Libya.

Saturday, Libyan rebels backed by allied air strikes recaptured the strategic eastern town of Ajdabiyah, thus pushing out Gaddafi’s forces.

“Everything was destroyed last night by our forces,” said rebel fighter Sarhag Agouri. Witnesses and rebel fighters said the whole town was in rebel hands by late morning.

Meanwhile, Obama in a video message late Friday, reiterated that Alassane Ouattara, the widely recognised winner of the presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire be allowed to take over the reins of power without further delay.

“Last year’s election was free and fair, and President Alassane Ouattara is the democratically elected leader of the nation,” Obama was quoted as saying by the Cable Network News.

Obama warned that should Gbagbo fail to step down, it would lead to “more violence, more innocent civilians being wounded and killed, and more diplomatic and economic isolation.”

Continuing, he said: “You have a proud past from gaining your independence to overcoming civil war, now you have the opportunity to realise your future. Ivorians deserve leaders who can restore their rightful place in the world.”

Obama’s message came after the UN Security Council had discussed a draft resolution introduced by France and Nigeria on a weapons ban in Abidjan. It also called for sanctions against Gbagbo and his inner circle.

Numerous attempts to resolve the political stalemate have failed because Gbagbo has refused to cede power, said Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to the UN.

Source: allafrica.com

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