Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged African leaders to halt their support for besieged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi lest they find themselves on the wrong side of history in a speech at the African Union's headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Gaddafi had long pursued a policy of providing aid to other African nations and in recent weeks the African Union has been a bastion of support amidst international condemnations. African leaders have sharply questioned NATO's Libya bombing campaign, and South African president Jacob Zuma met with Qaddafi in Libya in an unsuccessful attempt to mediate the conflict.

It is true that Gaddafi has played a major role in providing financial support for many African nations and institutions, including the AU, Clinton said. But it has become clear that we are long past the day when he can remain in power.

Clinton's urging leaders to abandon Gaddafi fit into her larger message of criticizing the autocrats that refuse to yield power across the continent.

Too many people in Africa still live under long-standing rulers, men who care too much about the longevity of their reign and too little about the legacy that should be built for their countries' future, Clinton said.

Clinton is the first Secretary of State to address the African Union.