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Obama urges Gadhafi loyalists to lay down arms

by Laura MacInnis, Reuters

August 22, 2011 | 5:05 pm

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Libya from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts Aug. 22. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Libya from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts Aug. 22. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Barack Obama urged Muammar Gadhafi on Monday to end the bloodshed in Libya as pockets of his loyalist forces engaged in fierce fighting against advancing rebels.

Reminding the United States that Gadhafi had “murdered scores of American citizens,” Obama interrupted his vacation to herald Gadhafi’s fall and urged him to limit the killing.

“Although it is clear Gadhafi’s rule is over, he still has the opportunity to reduce bloodshed by explicitly relinquishing power to the people of Libya and calling for those forces that continue to fight to lay down their arms,” Obama said.

While rebels hunted for Gadhafi in Tripoli, some forces loyal to the autocratic leader were resisting.

“This is not over yet,” Obama warned in a statement from the farm where his family is vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Vowing the United States would be a “friend and partner” to help the emergence of a democratic Libya, Obama also cautioned rebels against exacting revenge for Gadhafi’s brutal rule.

“True justice will not come from reprisals and violence. It will come from reconciliation and a Libya that allows its citizens to determine their own destiny,” Obama said.

Analysts see risks that Islamic militants with links to Al Qaeda may take advantage of instability after the crumbling of Gadhafi’s control over the country and gain a strong footing in the oil-producing nation.

Obama made plain that the United States would oppose any group within the loose coalition of rebels that has fought Gadhafi from imposing its power over other parts of Libyan society.

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