Obama: Qaddafi Missed His Chance to Step Down

Obama on Qaddafi: You never like to see anybody come to that kind of end, but it sends a message around the world to dictators.

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Elad Benari,

Qaddafi and Obama
Qaddafi and Obama
Israel news photo montage

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi missed his chance to bring democracy to his country, Reuters reported.

Obama made the comments in an interview on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

“This is somebody who, for 40 years, has terrorized his country and supported terrorism,” Obama was quoted by Reuters as having said on the show.

“He had an opportunity during the Arab Spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy,” the President added. “We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t do it.”

Obama referred to Qaddafi’s controversial death last week in his home town of Sirte. Reports about the death ranged from a lynch-style shooting after he was found cowering in a ditch - with accompanying lurid video - and being dragged alive and wounded through the streets, to simply being caught in the crossfire between NTC forces and Qaddafi loyalists.

The National Transitional Council, Libya’s temporary leaders, later said that Qaddafi’s death was unintentional.

“Obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators that ... people long to be free,” Obama said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Qaddafi was buried in a secret desert site. Prior to the burial, his body was displayed at a public meat market until it became so decayed that it had to be removed.

Complaints from his family and a wide array of international leaders and human rights groups forced the new government to agree to appoint a panel to investigate the circumstances in which he was killed.