Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi
Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi REUTERS

Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's daughter Aisha Gaddafi made a rare public appearance in capital Tripoli to rally support for her father, saying the talk about Gaddafi stepping down is an insult to all Libyans. Gaddafi is not in Libya but in the hearts of Libyans, she said.

Addressing a rally held on Thursday to observe the 25th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Tripoli in 1986, Aisha said the suggestion of Gaddafi stepping down is a provocation to all Libyans.

Meanwhile, the western coalition stepped up pressure on Gaddafi to relinquish power. A joint communiqué issued on Thursday said that allowing Gaddafi to stay in power would be an unconscionable betrayal of Libyans.

The coalition leaders said Libya is ripe for a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process, led by a new generation of leaders. For that transition to succeed, Colonel Gaddafi must go, and go for good, the statement said.

The leaders of Britain, France and the U.S. said the NATO forces will continue with their military operations in Libya. So long as Gaddafi is in power, NATO and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds, the leaders said.