President Barack Obama welcomed the imminent downfall of Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year reign in Libya late Sunday night, saying the “momentum against” Gaddafi’s regime “has reached a tipping point.”
“Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant,” Obama said in a statement. “The [Gaddafi] regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.”
Obama called on Gaddafi to formally acknowledge “the reality that he no longer controls Libya” and demanded that the tyrant “relinquish power once and for all.” Obama added that the Transitional National Council, which he said the United States has recognized as the “legitimate governing authority in Libya,” should continue to lead.
“At this pivotal and historic time, the TNC should continue to demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is just and inclusive for all of the people of Libya,” Obama added. “A season of conflict must lead to one of peace.”
The president said the United States will “continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC,” but that the “future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people.”
“We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy,” Obama’s statement said. (RELATED: McCain, Graham: More US airpower would have routed Gaddafi sooner)
According to White House press office pool reports, the president led a Libya conference call from adviser Valerie Jarrett’s house in Oaks Bluff on Martha’s Vineyard, where the president is currently vacationing. Aides on the call included Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, among others.
A White House spokesperson also said Obama has received regular updates from Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan “since this morning.”