UN Slaps Tough Sanctions on Libya; Obama Says He Must Quit
The United Nations Security Council late Saturday night unanimously slapped unprecedented military and financial sanctions on Libya for human rights violations, hours after U.S. President Barack Obama broke his silence and demanded that Muammar Gaddafi quit.
The United States also closed its embassy in Tripoli, after evacuating its citizens and freezing Gaddafi's assets.
The U.N. vote overcame earlier opposition by Brazil, China, India and Portugal, who recommended milder language in the decision aimed at forcing dictator Muammar Qaddafi to halt a brutal slaughter of opponents and to step down from power.
Qaddafi maintained Saturday night that he will stay in Libya and will only leave the country in a coffin.
Libya’s own ambassador to the United Nations, Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgam, broke ranks with Qaddafi and wrote the Security Council that he "supports the measures proposed in the draft resolution to hold to account those responsible for the armed attacks against the Libyan civilians, including [through] the International Criminal Court” in The Hague.
Russia added a clause to the resolution that precludes the United States from using the decision as a basis for military intervention in Libya.
The U.N. Security Council decision for the first time ever referred the human rights violations to the Court, a body that the United States has not joined. The resolution also called for a travel ban on Qaddafi and close relatives for 15 days.
Hours before the proclamation by the Security Council, President Obama, after a week of refraining from denouncing Qaddafi, followed the lead of other Western countries and for the first time stated Qaddafi must quit.
Obama told German Chancellor Angela Merkel, "When a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now."
The president had resisted mounting pressure to condemn the Libyan dictator because of fear of revenge by Qaddafi against approximately 600 Americans living or working in the country, nearly all of whom left the country on a final evacuation flight Friday. His silence was in direct contrast to his almost immediate insistence that deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak step down after the uprisings there that began three weeks ago.