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LIBYA: Obama, Hillary Clinton call on Kadafi to step down

February 26, 2011 |  2:30 pm

Security councilPresident Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday called on Moammar Kadafi to step down, reversing previous reticence by the U.S. leaders to directly urge the Libyan president to leave office.

In a statement, Clinton said Kadafi "has lost the confidence of his people and he should go without further bloodshed and violence," and that the Libyan people deserved a government that "protects their universally recognized human rights." The U.S. has always said that the future of Libya should be decided by its people, she said, and "they have made themselves clear."

In a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama did not cite Kadafi by name, but said that the Libyan leader had lost his legitimacy. "The President stated that when a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now," a White House statement said.

Clinton's statements come as the U.N. Security Council continued to debate a resolution and potential sanctions against Libya. China, which wields veto power, is reportedly still awaiting instructions from Beijing on how to vote.

"We are moving quickly on a series of steps to hold the Libyan government accountable for its violation of human rights and to mobilize a strong response from the international community," Clinton said.

Obama announced sanctions against Libya on Friday.

The group Doctors without Borders issued its first report on medical facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Saturday. After its representatives visited three medical centers in the city, the group said the facilities have "managed to deal with the numbers of wounded people and medical needs." However, the hospitals have shortages of some medical equipment, including dressings for wounds, sutures and anesthesia drugs, the group said.

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-- Alana Semuels

Photo: Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, arrives at for Security Council meetings Saturday. Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

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