Time for Gaddafi to leave: Obama


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04-03-2011 08:11 AM


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04-03-2011 08:46 AM

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2011-03-04 08:11:29

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OBAMA, Barack


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Time for Gaddafi to leave: Obama -

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Time for Gaddafi to leave: Obama

Ben Knight reported this story on Friday, March 4, 2011 08:09:00

TONY EASTLEY: The US president Barack Obama has come out strongly condemning the Libyan leader
Moamar Gaddafi, saying he's lost legitimacy and must leave office.

And he says a big evacuation of foreign workers fleeing the bloodshed is underway on the Tunisian

BARACK OBAMA: Tens of thousands of people from many different countries are fleeing Libya.

I have therefore approved the use of US military aircraft to help move Egyptians who have fled to
the Tunisian border to get back home to Egypt.

I have also directed USAID to send humanitarian assistance teams to the Libyan border.

We will continue to send a clear message. The violence must stop. Moamar Gaddafi has lost
legitimacy to lead and he must leave.

TONY EASTLEY: The US president.

French and British aircraft have been involved in the evacuation.

In coming days aircraft from Spain are expected to join as well as ships from France, Germany and

The scene of fighting this week, the town of Brega near Benghazi in eastern Libya is now quiet.
It's very late evening.

Much earlier in the day their time some bombs were dropped by government forces and another clash
is expected.

The ABC's Middle East correspondent Ben Knight is in Libya.

Ben Knight you've gone back to the town of Brega. What did you see?

BEN KNIGHT: Well Tony the drive down there was quite interesting. Yesterday when we travelled from
Benghazi down to Brega and through Ajdabiyah the road was full of opposition militia and their
weapons rushing towards the fight, lots of checkpoints.

When we got to Brega the town was empty of civilians. It was full of fighters and interestingly
many of them were soldiers. They would be the soldiers who of course have deserted the regime.

Again, lots of weapons being prepared and a real mix of elation at what they managed to achieve
yesterday in driving out the pro-Gaddafi forces. But also a real air of tension and it was building
as we were there.

TONY EASTLEY: Ben can you give us some idea of how far away are the pro-Gaddafi forces?

BEN KNIGHT: Well we were standing just on the southern edge of Brega which is not a very large town
at all.

What we were told was that they had pushed back the front line to 20 kilometres down the road so
there was this no man's land of around 20 kilometres in between them.

But another 80 or so kilometres beyond that is another quite significant town on the coast again
another oil depot called Ras Lanuf. Now this is where the opposition says that the Libyan army is
regrouping and they are preparing for another attack.

The opposition say that the forces have been reinforced. They have been bolstered with more
mercenaries from Africa.

And indeed Moamar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam has been quoted today as saying yes the Libyan army
is going to try and capture those oil ports.

TONY EASTLEY: These mercenaries we keep hearing about Ben Knight what do we know of them? And is it
fair to question their loyalty because I guess they can only be as loyal to Gaddafi as long as they
are paid?

BEN KNIGHT: Well they have been part of this conflict pretty much from the beginning. Very, very
early in this revolt we were hearing reports which have been pretty much confirmed that there have
been mercenaries involved in fighting on behalf of the regime.

And if these reports are the case that Moamar Gaddafi is reinforcing his troops with mercenaries
then it does appear that he is relying on them.

And this is another one of the reasons why the opposition is calling for a no-fly zone - simply to
stop these mercenary fighters from being flown in.

Now as to their loyalty well they are in a bit of tough situation because if they are caught it's
unlikely that the opposition are going to be showing them much mercy at all. They are absolutely

So they may not be fighting so much for their loyalty or for the pay cheque but simply because they
have no other option.

TONY EASTLEY: And that's Middle East correspondent Ben Knight in Libya.