Time for Gaddafi to leave power: Clinton

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Lalit K JhaWashington, Feb 27 (PTI) Asserting that MuammarGaddafi has lost the confidence of his people, US Secretary ofState Hillary Clinton has said it is time that the Libyanleader should go without further bloodshed and violence.

"We have always said that the Gaddafi government''sfuture is a matter for the Libyan people to decide, and theyhave made themselves clear," she said in a statement.

"When a leader''s only means of staying in power is touse mass violence against his own people, he has lost thelegitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for hiscountry by leaving now," she said echoing the view ofPresident Barack Obama.

Clinton, who is headed to UN Human Rights Council inGeneva tomorrow, said she has taken a number of stepsincluding revoking the US visas of Libyan diplomats anddenying any fresh applications.

Yesterday, Washington took action to limit the abilityof senior officials of the Gaddafi regime to travel.

"As Secretary of State, I signed an order directingthe Department to revoke US visas held by these officials,others responsible for human rights violations in Libya, andtheir immediate family members. As a matter of policy, newvisa applications will be denied," she said.

The step followed President Obama''s Executive Orderfreezing assets and imposing financial sanctions on members ofthe regime, and the suspension of the very limited defencetrade with Libya.

Clinton said the US strongly condemns the ongoingviolence and human rights violations committed by the Libyangovernment against its own people.

These actions violate international norms and everystandard of common decency. They must stop, she demanded.

"We are moving quickly on a series of steps to holdthe Libyan government accountable for its violation of humanrights and to mobilize a strong response from theinternational community."Clinton said the US is working with its friends andpartners to mobilise a strong and unified response from theinternational community to hold accountable the perpetratorsof these unacceptable violations of universal human rights.

"This afternoon I continued close consultations withour European allies, including EU High RepresentativeCatherine Ashton. Negotiations are underway at the UnitedNations Security Council on a resolution that would impose newsanctions and restrictions."The Secretary of State said that she would tomorrowmeet with a number of counterparts in Geneva and address theUN Human Rights Council, which on Friday recommendedsuspending Libya''s membership.

"Consistent with the President''s guidance, we willcontinue to look at the full range of options to hold theLibyan government accountable and support the Libyan people,"Clinton added.

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