Washington, March 4 (DPA) US President Barack Obama renewed calls for Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi to step down Wednesday and said anyone carrying out violence against innocent civilians on Gaddafi’s behalf will be held accountable.
“Muammer Gaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead and he must leave,” Obama said at a press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Obama warned officials close to Gaddafi that their actions are being monitored and attacks on civilians will not be tolerated by the international community.
“They should know history is moving against Colonel Gaddafi,” Obama said. “Their support for him and their willingness to carry out orders that direct violence against citizens is something that, ultimately, they will be held accountable for.”
The US was keeping all options — including military — available to respond to the crisis, Obama said. But he emphasized the focus for the time being was on the humanitarian situation.
He announced he had authorized the US military to fly Egyptians in Libya who have fled to the Tunisian border back to Egypt. He also said US aid teams have been dispatched to help the UN and other international organisations with humanitarian support, and that preparations to deliver food were underway.
Obama said establishing a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from government aircraft was still an option, but vowed that any response will be coordinated internationally.
“I want us to be making our decisions based on what’s going to be best for the Libyan people in consultation with the international community,” Obama said.