In the wake of the news that Moammar Gadhafi is dead, having been shot by Libyan rebels, world leaders have hailed the death of the dictator as an end to tyranny and the beginning of a new democracy in Libya.
While Libyans flooded Sirte and Tripoli, firing automatic weapons, waving flags, and dancing through the streets, those who helped instigate the overthrow and eventual death of Gadhafi, who ruled the oil-rich African nation for over 40 years, expressed hope for Libya's future and relief at the apparent end to Libyan civil war.
U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking in front of the White House, announced the end of a regime that had caused in the wrongful deaths and imprisonments of thousands. This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya, Obama told reporters, who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny. Later on, Obama said he was proud of what the U.S. helped accomplish with the Libyan rebels. We did, he told The Herald Sun, exactly what we said we were going to do.
GOP primary candidates have similarly welcomed news that Gadhafi is dead. Mitt Romney, on learning that Gadhafi was killed, said on radio show Open Line with Randy Renshaw that I have seen those reports and, if accurate, I think the response is 'about time.' At an Iowan campaign stop, Romney was then asked whether President Obama deserved some credit for the outcome in Libya. Yes, Romney said. Yes, absolutely.
Britain and France, the European countries that most influenced the military campaign against Gadhafi, went even further, hailing the dictator's death not only as a new chapter for Libya but as the fitting end to a brutal tyrant.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement that Gadhafi being killed had opened the doors for a land where fundamental freedom will be guaranteed, according to The Wall Street Journal. The dictatorial and violent regime that was imposed on them for more than 40 years, Sarkozy said, was over.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was initially somber at the news, urging mourning for Gadhafi's victims following the news of his death. I think today is a day to remember all of Colonel Gadhafi's victims, from those who died in connection with the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, to Yvonne Fletcher in a London street, and obviously all the victims of IRA terrorism who died through their use of Libyan Semtex, Cameron said in an official statement. I am proud of the role Britain has played.
Later on, however, speaking a reception for Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, The Mirror reported that Cameron was more open about his reaction, and more damning of the recently killed Gadhafi.
Obviously, Diwali being a festival of the triumph of good over evil, and also celebrating the death of a devil, perhaps there's a little resonance in what I'm saying tonight, Cameron told prominent members of the Sikh and Hindu community. I have had one of those days when so many different things have happened... one day I'll get it all muddled up, but I just about know where I am.
Other world leaders' reactions show less eagerness to openly approve of the rebel who shot Gadhafi, and of the use of murder to achieve peace in a civil war.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, noting that Gadhafi himself was once a popular revolutionary, expressed regret that the Libyan dictator was killed by rebels. [If he was] captured alive, he could be brought to justice, Bildt said.
Britain's Amnesty International and the Polish government have reacted in simiarly cautious statements, praising Gadhafi's downfall, which they supported, without approving of his death.
The most vocal critic of the Gadhafi assassination has been Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a long-time friend and ally of the African leader. Calling the act an outrage and praising Gadhafi as a great fighter and a martyr, Chavez blamed the US, NATO and its allies for the Libyan uprising, claiming the countries looked to take Libya's oil.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, unlike Chavez, is an old ally yet to release an official statement on Gadhafi's death. Speaking in the spring however, Putin condemned the call for military intervention in Libya, saying NATO's move resembled a medieval call to crusade. Who allowed you to do this? Putin said in a statement to Arab News. What, there was a trial? Who gave themselves the right to sentence someone to death, regardless what kind of person he is?
The Vatican perhaps summed it up best. This dramatic event, said an official statement from the Holy See, forces us to reflect once again on the price of immense human suffering that accompanies the assertion and collapse of any system that is not based on respect and dignity of the person, but on the principal assertion of power.
Following confirmation that Gadhafi was dead, however, one message to Libya and Libyans is unanimous: look to the future.
The path is now clear, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, for a fresh political start, in peace... [to[ ensure the achievements of the Arab Spring cannot be undone.
President Obama and PM David Cameron urged similar moves towards rebuilding and reconciliation, assuring Libya that both countries would work with Libyans to ensure peace and prosperity in the future.We are under no illusions, Obama said. There will be difficult days ahead.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has especially advocated a move towards repairing the damage done by the civil war following Libya's Arab Spring. Libyans can only realize the promise of the future, he said, through national unity and reconciliation. Combatants on all sides must lay down their arms in peace. He promised U.N. assistance in the months to come. This is the time for healing and rebuilding, he said, for generosity of spirit, not for revenge.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, meanwhile, had a more pragmatic reaction to Gadhafi's death. We do not approve of extra-judicial killing, Hague told Sky News, but we are not going to mourn him.