Obama Says Gadhafi 'Must Leave' Power In Libya

March 3, 2011

Bill Chappell

President Obama says that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must give in to anti-government forces in his country and leave office. The president also said that America will help cope with refugees fleeing the violence in Libya.

Speaking on a day that saw rebel forces strengthening their hold on the port city of Brega, Obama said:

Moammar Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead, and he must leave. Those who perpetrate violence against the Libyan people will be held accountable. And the aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy and dignity must be met.

Asked if he had a "doctrine" for judging when and how to intervene in Libya and other nations where anti-government protesters are clashing with long-entrenched leaders, Obama said, "My approach throughout the convulsions that have swept through the Middle East is, number one, no violence against citizens; number two, that we stand for freedom and democracy."

Obama said Gadhafi has run afoul of those expectations. In Libya, the president said, "what you've seen is, number one, violence against citizens, and the active urging of violence against unarmed citizens by Gadhafi."

The president also announced that U.S. military aircraft will begin to take on a new role in the process: flying Egyptian refugees who have fled Libya back home, instead of forcing them to stay in neighboring Tunisia.

"Tens of thousands of people from many different countries are fleeing Libya. And we commend the governments of Tunisia and Egypt for their response, even as they go through their own political transitions," Obama said.

The president offered his comments on Lybia during an appearance at the White House with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon.

U.S. officials are still grappling with the question of how to enforce a no-fly zone, which has been suggested as a way to keep Gadhafi from using his military against his own people. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.