Muammar Qaddafi's 42 years of bizarre rule appear to be coming to an abrupt end. Rebels overran Libya's capital Sunday, setting off celebrations, and arrested two of his sons. World leaders called on Qaddafi, whose whereabouts were unknown, to relinquish power.
The Washington Post reported:
Gaddafi loyalists were still holed up in and around the Bab al-Aziziya headquarters where the Libyan leader lived, and there were reports of fierce battles there Monday morning, indicating that the fight was not yet over. But the rebels were consolidating their control over wide swaths of the capital, and world leaders urged Gaddafi to give up to spare the city further bloodshed.
Gaddafi "needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya," President Obama said in a written statement issued late Sunday. "He needs to relinquish power once and for all." Britain, Germany, Italy and other European countries joined the call on Monday, also urging the rebels to respect human rights and not to exact revenge on Gaddafi supporters.
It was not clear whether Gaddafi was in his compound, but rebels contacted in Tripoli said they were sure he was still in the city. They said they were in the process of setting up checkpoints to make sure he did not slip away.
That his end was imminent became clear late Sunday when hundreds of rebel fighters swarmed into the symbolically significant Green Square in the heart of the capital. Previously the scene of daily pro-Gaddafi rallies, the square became the scene of jubilant celebrations as fighters fired their Kalashnikov assault rifles at a portrait of Gaddafi looming over the square.
While most of the world will join Libyans in celebrating the end of a bizarre reign, some African leaders will lament Qaddafí's ouster. Over the years, the Libyan leader lavished funds on other African nations and cultivated close relationships with its most despicable leaders in pursuit of his quixotic vision of a vast pan-African state that encompassed both Arab and black African nations. There will also be some gloom in Chicago, where Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has vigorously defended Qaddafi, to the point of calling President Barack Obama an assassin for his support of NATO air strikes to support the rebels.
The real challenge, however, will be for Libyans to find their way to a more responsive and rational form of government in a country that has never known democracy.
Read the full report from the Washington Post here.