Former Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed in his hometown of Sirte early Thursday morning and U.S. President Barack Obama has come out to comment on the death of the former strongman.
Obama, speaking from the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, addressed the nation on the apparent news of Gaddafi’s death.
"Today, the government of Libya announced the death of Muammar Gaddafi," he said. “This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya.”
“Today we can definitively say that the Gaddafi regime has come to an end,” he added. “One of the world’s longest serving dictators is no more.
“The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted.”
Obama did not say in his brief address that his administration independently verified Gaddafi’s death. According to Politico, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said they are not on the ground to confirm it but reiterated that they are “confident” about reports of the dictator’s death.
The U.S. president used his address to call upon the Libyan government to respect the human rights of all Libyans. He said that the U.S. understands that Libya will travel “a long and winding road to full democracy” but that ultimately the future of the country is finally in the hands of the people of Libya.
“You have won the revolution,” he said. “Today belongs to the people of Libya.”
The president concluded his statement, saying, “The American people wish the Libyan people the very best in what will be challenging but hopeful days, weeks, months and years ahead.”
The news of Gaddafi’s death comes just days after the Obama Administration sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the country to cement ties with Libya’s National Transitional Council.
Clinton pledged millions of dollars, totaling about $11 million, in aid to the new leaders of Libya which includes medical care for wounded fighters and additional assistance in securing and destroying dangerous Gaddafi-era weaponry that many fear could land in the hands of terrorists.
She urged the new government to unify the myriad of rebellious militias into a new security structure so as to ensure conflict does not erupt between the rebel groups. She also discussed the plans for political transition with NTC leaders.
Clinton, like Obama, stressed the importance for the NTC to maintain its eight-month timetable for elections in the country and also urged the government not to unleash retaliatory violence against Gaddafi loyalists.
“It is going to be a challenge for them to make sure that in all cases they are able to have fair judicial procedures that meet international standards, just given the history of Libya over the past 42 years," she said.
However, she added, “The intentions certainly strike us being sincere, we have positive examples, but there’s definitely going to be challenges going forward.”