Home > Home, Politics > World leaders react to Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s death

World leaders react to Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s death

October 22, 2011

By Marlene Werner

AMSTERDAM – World leaders were  on Saturday welcoming the confirmation of Mu’ammar Gaddafi’s capture and the subsequent end of his 42-year-long rule over Libya.

However, there were mixed feelings over his death.

Obama impressed

U.S. president Barack Obama, one of the first to make a statement, said in front of the White House: “This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya, who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny.”

He said the Libyan rebels together with the international coalition of NATO and Arab nations brought the regime to its end. “The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted,” he said.

He took a positive look in the future, promising American support in the establishment of a democratic Libyan state.

“The Libyan people now have a great responsibility – to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stand as the ultimate rebuke to Gaddafi’s dictatorship.”

The U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, uttered an initial “Wow,” in apparent disbelief  upon hearing rumors about the colonel’s capture for the first time.

After confirmation of his death, she added: “Gaddafi’s death closes a very unfortunate chapter in Libya’s history, but it also marks the start of a new era for the Libyan people. It is our hope that what I saw in Tripoli on Tuesday, the eagerness of the Libyan people to build a new democracy can now begin in earnest.”

UN-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed Obama’s sentiments in his official statement.

“Libya now closes a painful and tragic chapter and starts a new one based on national reconciliation, justice, respect for human rights and the rule of law. The road ahead is full of challenges, but also opportunities.”

He stressed the importance of a unification and cooperation of the Libyan people and the continuing support of the international community. “Combatants on all sides must lay down their arms in peace,” he said. “This is the time for healing and rebuilding, for generosity of spirit – not for revenge.”

Former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer shared Ban’s implied concerns, reported the Volkskrant.

Libya runs risk of fragmentation, with the different tribes fighting each other after the death of the leader, he said.

Scheffer urged continuing international assistance in establishing institutions.

UN offers more support

The United Nations confirmed continuing assistance to the Libyan authorities in restoring public security, building plans for elections and ensuring transitional justice.

Ian Martin, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) called it a historic day and “key moment of the transition,” in an official UN-statement.

He awaits the final declaration of liberation by the National Transitional Council, currently set on Sunday, Oct. 23, paving way to democracy.

“It’s the people of Libya who have made their revolution and it’s the Libyan people, with youth and women very much at the fore, who will lead on the way ahead,” he said. “But they have asked the United Nations to play a significant role in assisting them.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen likewise emphasized the necessity of Libyan unity and international cooperation. “Libya can draw a line under a long dark chapter in its history and turn over a new page. Now the people of Libya can truly decide their own future. I call on all Libyans to put aside their differences and work together to build a brighter future.”

He considers the UN’s mandate to be successfully implemented and indicated the upcoming end of the NATO mission on Oct. 31.

Leaders of the European Union tuned into the general appraisal of the colonel’s death, calling it the end of an era of despotism and oppression, and a new page of history.

Europe looks forward to the future

All over Europe, most politicians looked forward to working with Libya minus Gaddafi, mirroring each others’ statements.

Italian Prime Minister and former ally of Gaddafi, Silvio Berlusconi, merely contributed a two-sentence-long declaration, according to international media: “Now the war has ended. Sic transit gloria mundi (Thus passes the glory).”

German chancellor Angela Merkel called it “the end of a bloody war, which Gaddafi fought against his own people. The way is open to a new political beginning in peace.”

Germany was satisfied with the situation and stood ready to offer further support, she said.

German minister of foreign affairs, Guido Westerwelle, agreed with her statements.

“It would have been better if Gaddafi had been captured alive and were to stand trial at the International Criminal Court,” said Kerstin Müller, German spokeswoman of foreign affairs of the left ‘Green’ party in the German media.

United Dutch reaction

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte considered Gaddafi’s death marking the end of a long period of dictatorship and a terrible regime.

He drew attention to the necessary capture of other wanted persons which should be brought to the International Criminal Court in The Hague immediately.

Other politicians and officials bemoaned the now impossible legal processing of the colonel’s crimes as a waste, while some even condemned his assassination.

Several national Dutch politicians agreed with their German colleague, as reported by the Volkskrant.

Defense minister, Hans Hillen, said: “I am relieved. However, it would have been better if Gaddafi had to take responsibility for his deeds in The Hague.”

D66-chairman Alexander Pechthold added: “Law would have triumphed more strongly, if Gaddafi had to take responsibility for his deeds and stand trial at the International Criminal Court.”

Former mayor of Amsterdam and current PvdA leader, Job Cohen, ChristenUnie-chairman Arie Slob and GroenLinks-leader Jolande Sap all supported these opinions.

Amnesty International wants justice

In its official statement, Amnesty International emphasized that “the death of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi brings to a close a chapter of Libya’s history marked by repression and abuse, but does not end the story.”

“Colonel al-Gaddafi’s death must not stop his victims in Libya from seeing justice being done. The many Libyan officials suspected of serious human rights violations committed during and before this year’s uprising, including the infamous Abu Salim prison massacre in 1996, must answer for their crimes,” said Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s Senior Director.

Russia, South Africa opposed to assassination

Russian Foreign affair minister Sergej Lavrov, did not endorse the alleged assassination of Gaddafi.

Gaddafi had a right to treatment as a prisoner of war on the basis of international law, he said according to the Volkskrant. Under no circumstances should he have been killed,  added Lavrov.

South-African president Jacob Zuma also criticized Gaddafi’s assassins. They should have known that he was under an arrest warrant, Zuma was reported saying by the Volkskrant.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Dittmann, a German expert on Geographic Development Studies and Cultural Geography of the Islamic Orient and Africa, said that Gaddafi’s death must come as a relief to many Western authorities.

In an interview with Germany media, he referred to the likely cover-up of long-standing Western-Libyan cooperation and Gaddafi’s “instrumentalization as a defense-officer against migrants for Europe.”

What he does not indicate directly, but presumably hints at, is the secret deals and clandestine contracts that existed between Libya and Western secret services.

These were uncovered earlier this year and are now likely to further disappear into the background due to problematic follow-up.

However, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam and the colonel’s security chief still seem at large according to international media.

Their overdue capture strengthens the hope for a trial in which Libyan crimes against humanity and the country’s cooperation with the West could be inquired.

Chavez outraged

The Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, a close friend and colleague of Gaddafi, was outraged at the news that the former Libyan leader was dead. “Sadly, the death of Gaddafi has been confirmed,” he said to El Universal.

“They assassinated him. They murdered him. We shall remember Gaddafi our whole lives as a great fighter, a revolutionary, and a martyr,” he claimed according to the Venezuelan newspaper.

Jordan, Iraq commend Gadaffi’s ouster

Abdullah al-Khatib, former Jordanian foreign minister and previous UN special envoy to Libya, told Reuters: “Other somehow similar systems in the region should draw their conclusions and listen to the voice of the people and should create the conditions whereby people of the region can freely and openly determine their future and destiny.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said: “We congratulate our Libyan brothers and the (National) Transitional Council on the occasion of getting rid of the tyrant Gaddafi, who ran Libya for four decades filled with oppression,” according to his office’s statement. “The similarity of the fate of tyrants in Iraq and Libya and elsewhere is proof of the potential of the people to defeat dictators, however long they have been in power.”

Despite international divisions over Gaddafi’s death and its repercussions, Libya continues its celebrations.

Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, who declared to step down on Oct. 22, commented Gaddafi’s death by saying: “It’s time to start a new Libya, a united Libya. One people, one future.”

According to Abdel Hafez Ghoga, National Transitional Council (NTC) spokesman, Gaddafi’s death “is an historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship. Gaddafi has met his fate,” he said, as reported by Reuters.


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