Obama declares national emergency, freezes Gadhafi's assets

WASHINGTON, D.C.: U.S. President Barack Obama on late Friday declared a national emergency and issued an executive order to block property and prohibiting transactions related to Libya.

Libya has been plunged into chaos as massive anti-government protests continue nationwide, resulting in a violent crackdown by security forces which included aerial bombardments on protesters. At least 300 people and as many as more than 1,000 people have been killed in the uprising, but confirmed information has been difficult to obtain due to reporting restrictions by Libyan authorities.

In the executive order, Obama describes the new sanctions against Libya and the reasoning behind them. "Colonel [Muammar al-Gaddafi], his government, and close associates have taken extreme measures against the people of Libya, including by using weapons of war, mercenaries, and wanton violence against unarmed civilians," he said in the order.

Obama continues by saying he believes there is a "serious risk" that Libyan state assets will be misappropriated by Gaddafi, members of his government, members of his family, or his close associates if those assets are not protected. He also declared a national emergency, citing a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.

"The foregoing circumstances, the prolonged attacks, and the increased numbers of Libyans seeking refuge in other countries from the attacks, have caused a deterioration in the security of Libya and pose a serious risk to its stability, thereby constituting an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat," the order said.

Obama's order blocks the property and interests in property of persons such as Gaddafi himself, his children and other government officials. "By any measure, [Muammar al-Gaddafi's] government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable," the U.S. President said.

He added: "Going forward, the United States will continue to closely coordinate our actions with the international community, including our friends and allies, and the United Nations. We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights, and a government that is responsive to their aspirations. Their human dignity cannot be denied."


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