President Barack Obama declared the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi over on Monday.
“There remains a degree of uncertainty, and there are still regime elements who pose a threat,” Obama said of the ongoing upheaval in Libya. “But this much is clear: The Gadhafi regime is coming to an end and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.”
Obama said that in recent days, “the situation in Libya has reached a tipping point as the opposition increased its coordination from east to west, took town after town and the people of Tripoli rose up to claim their freedom.”
The White House released Obama’s recorded remarks after he was briefed by members of the National Security Council on the situation in Libya, where protests escalated to a near overthrow of Gadhafi during the weekend.
Citizens of the North African country have been protesting their leader for months. Since March, the U.S. and its NATO allies have been engaged in bombing missions against Gadhafi forces.
The effort is intended to prevent the government from killing civilians and protesters in the country’s civil war. In his Monday remarks, Obama suggested those efforts would continue, and he called on Gadhafi to peacefully step down.
“I want to emphasize that this is not over yet. As the regime collapses, there’s still fierce fighting in some areas, and we have reports of regime elements threatening to continue fighting,” Obama cautioned.
He added: “Although it’s clear that Gadhafi’s rule is over, he still has the opportunity to reduce further bloodshed by explicitly relinquishing power to the people of Libya and calling for those forces that continue to fight to lay down their arms for the sake of Libya.”
That suggestion marked the second time in recent days that Obama has called on a foreign leader to step down amid violent unrest. Last Thursday, Obama called for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ouster and revealed that the United States would impose a new round of sanctions against that Middle Eastern country.