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U.S. imposes sanctions on Libyan government, UN may follow

 
 
 
 
 
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Protesters shout slogans against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during a demonstartion at court square, in Benghazi, Libya, on Friday.

After days of prevarication through the peak of the Libyan crisis, the United States government finally moved on Friday evening to impose unilateral sanctions against the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The Obama administration’s latest move came even as the United Nations Security Council planned to reconvene on the subject of violence in Libya and the consequent prospect of UN sanctions.

In a statement on Friday U.S. President Barack Obama said, “The Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights, brutalisation of its people, and outrageous threats have rightly drawn the strong and broad condemnation of the international community.”

Indicating the U.S. intention to coordinate its punitive actions with the international community Mr. Obama said that his administration would work closely with the UN and other allies in this regard.

Meanwhile the UNSC, including India, contemplated further sanctions against the Gaddafi government for its violent repression of protestors in Tripoli and elsewhere.

Maria Luiza Ribetro Viotti, who holds the rotating UNSC presidency for February, said in a statement that the Council was poised to consider a draft resolution on Libya on Saturday and action was “possible” against Tripoli given that “there is a sense of urgency,” regarding developments in that country.

In comments to media Ms. Viotti warned that the situation in Libya was deteriorating with reported violations of human rights, adding, “The [UNSC] draft resolution includes targeted measures aimed at putting an end to violence and [achieving] a peaceful solution to the current crisis, and ensuring accountability of the Libyan people.

In imposing a freeze on all assets and property of certain individuals and institutions linked to the Gaddafi regime Mr. Obama said in an executive order that his administration had found that “Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, his government, and close associates have taken extreme measures against the people of Libya, including by using weapons of war, mercenaries, and wanton violence against unarmed civilians.”

In the order Mr. Obama said the he further found that “there is a serious risk that Libyan state assets will be misappropriated by Gaddafi, members of his government, members of his family, or his close associates if those assets are not protected.”

Given these circumstances, and the fact that growing numbers of Libyans were seeking refuge in other countries from the attacks, the deterioration in the security of Libya posed a serious risk to its stability and to the national security and foreign policy of the U.S., Mr. Obama concluded, and this justified the imposition of sanctions. Meanwhile the State Department confirmed that it had completed the withdrawal of its embassy personnel from Tripoli and suspended all embassy operations effective February 25th.

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