21 Oct 2011

Death of Gaddafi marks ‘new era’ for Libya

The world reacts to the end of Colonel Gaddafi’s 42-year grip on Libya as the US warns of “difficult days ahead” following his death. Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s burial has been delayed.

The death of Colonel Gaddafi marks the start of a “new era for Libya“, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, as world leaders unite to welcome the end of his 42-year rule.

She said it “brought to a close a very unfortunate chapter in Libya’s history”.

But she added that it also marked the start of a new era for the Libyan people.

“It is our hope that what I saw in Tripoli… first hand, the eagerness of Libyans to build a new democracy, can begin in earnest.”

It is our hope that what I saw in Tripoli…first hand, the eagerness of Libyans to build a new democracy, can begin in earnest. Hillary Clinton

Libya’s rulers also seem eager to move forward – the liberation of Libya is set to be announced on Saturday in Benghazi. And it is expected that the Nato mission will be over soon as well. The force’s top operations commander Admiral James Stavridis said he would be recommending the conclusion of the mission to a meeting of alliance ambassadors on Friday.

“I will be recommending conclusion of this mission to the North Atlantic Council of NATO,” Stavridis announced in a posting on his Facebook page.

“A good day for NATO. A great day for the people of Libya,” he wrote.

Gaddafi’s death

Channel 4 News has learned Gaddafi’s funeral will not take place today because more time is needed to examine his body.

Separately, a Syrian television station which supported the former Libyan leader has claimed that Gaddafi’s wife has asked for a United Nations investigation into his death, the exact circumstances of which remain unclear.

The UN’s human rights office has already called for an investigation and voiced concerns that he may have been executed while in captivity.

It has emerged that a Nato air strike hit Gaddafi’s convoy ahead of his death. A Nato statement said that it did not know Gaddafi was in the convoy when it was targeted on Thursday and that it is not Nato policy to target individuals. It said the convoy was targeted because it had a large number of weapons and posed a threat to civilians.

After the strike, Gaddafi was captured alive but died later in the hands of fighters. A doctor who examined his body said the Colonel died of a bullet wound in his intestines and he also had a bullet wound in his head.

Death of Gaddafi marks 'new era' for Libya. (Reuters)

‘Difficult days ahead’

President Barack Obama has warned of “difficult days ahead” for Libya.

“Today we can definitively say the Gaddafi regime has come to an end and one of the world’s longest serving dictators is no more.

“The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted and with this enormous promise the people of Libya have a great responsibility to build an inclusive, tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Gaddafi’s dictatorship.”

People in Libya have an even greater chance, after this news, of building themselves a strong and democratic future. David Cameron

But he added: “We are under no illusions – there will be difficult days ahead”.

David Cameron said the dictator’s death was a moment to remember his many victims, including those who died when Pan-Am flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie in 1988, Wpc Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot outside the Libyan embassy in 1984, and those killed by the IRA using Semtex explosives supplied by Gaddafi.

Britain has played a prominent role in the Nato-led international military effort to protect Libyan civilians under the terms of a UN resolution passed in March, following the outbreak of the uprising against Gaddafi the month before.

The prime minister said he was “proud” of the role Britain played in helping the Libyan people liberate their country.

“People in Libya today have an even greater chance, after this news, of building themselves a strong and democratic future,” Mr Cameron said.

“I’m proud of the role that Britain has played in helping them to bring that about and I pay tribute to the bravery of the Libyans who have helped to liberate their country.

“We will help them, we will work with them, and that is what I want to say.”

An Indian newspaper reports news of Gaddafi's death. (Getty)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who spearheaded a Franco-British move in Nato to back the revolt against Gaddafi, hailed his death.

“The liberation of Sirte must signal … the start of a process … to establish a democratic system in which all groups in the country have their place and where fundamental freedoms are guaranteed,” he said.

We will terminate our mission in coordination with the UN and NTC and that moment has now moved much closer. Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Nato is now expected to announce that its mission in Libya is over.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Nato Secretary General, said: “After 42 years, Colonel Gaddafi’s rule of fear has come to an end. Finally Libya can close this long, dark chapter in its history and turn over a new page.

Nato and its partners have successfully implemented the United Nations mandate to protect the people of Libya.

“We will terminate our mission in coordination with the United Nations and the National Transitional Council and that moment has now moved much closer. And now I call on all Libyans to put aside their differences and work together to build a brighter future.”

Meanwhile, Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, said: “Let us recognise, immediately, that this is only the end of the beginning. The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges.”