The UN Security Council has adopted measures against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya over its attempts to crush a popular uprising. The sanctions were passed in New York by a unanimous vote.
Much of eastern Libya is no longer controlled by Gadhafi
The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution against Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi late Saturday in a bid to halt his bloody crackdown on opposition protesters.
The resolution, unanimously adopted by all 15 nations on the Council, calls for an arms embargo, assets freeze and a travel ban on Gadhafi, four of his sons and a daughter. It also demands Gadhafi be referred to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.
"Today the Council has sent out a clear and strong message," Germany's ambassador to the UN, Peter Wittig, said in his address to the Council after the vote. "The international community will not tolerate the gross and systematic violation of human rights by the Libyan regime."
Wittig added that the "unanimous referral of the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court demonstrates our resolve not to allow impunity."
Wittig told the Council Gadhafi had to be brought to justice
"This is a clear warning to those who perpetrate systematic attacks against the civilian population that they will be held accountable," he said.
A thousand dead
The UN estimates more than 1,000 people have died in the 10-day-old revolt.
But Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned that sanctions would do more harm to Libya’s people than to Colonel Gadhafi.
"We call on the international community to act with conscience, justice, laws and universal humane values — not out of oil concerns," Erdogan said.
Germany, Britain want tough sanctions
In a telephone conversation earlier Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed on the need for urgent United Nations sanctions, the German government's deputy spokesman, Christoph Steegmans, said in a statement.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that "a ruling family that wages such brutal war against its own people is finished."
"The dictator cannot stay," Westerwelle said.
On Friday, US President Barack Obama signed an executive order freezing the assets of Gaddafi, members of his family and senior officials. The president said he was also seizing Libyan state property in the US, to prevent it being misappropriated by Tripoli.
As the UN moved to sanction Gadhafi's regime, a forming caretaker government in the liberated, second city of Benghazi received growing support from Libya's diplomats.
Libya's former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil said he was assembling a new government to lead the country for three months to prepare for elections.
Libya's deputy UN ambassador said his delegation supported the caretaker government "in principle."
"We are seeking more information about it, but yes, I think we support it," he said.
Protesters want Gadhafi to step down
Foreigners being evacuated
Meanwhile, in the wake of continued violence, thousands of foreign nationals continue to be evacuated from Libya by air, sea and land.
On Saturday, two British military transport aircraft picked up about 150 foreign nationals in the desert south of Benghazi, and flew them to the Mediterranean island of Malta.
Much of Libya, especially the east, is now controlled by anti-Gadhafi forces but the Libyan leader remains in control of the capital Tripoli.
Thousands of people, mostly economic migrants, have fled north Africa, headed for Europe in search of a better life.
In response to the exodus of migrants, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that it was in Germany's interest to invest in development projects to help establish stability and democracy there and thus prevent migration.
"We want to live in a world in which there are more and more democratic and stable structures, and people do not feel the need to leave their own countries and apply for asylum here, for example," Merkel said in her weekly video podcast.
In an emotional address on Friday, the Libyan ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Shalgham urged the UN Security Council to act against the "atrocities," comparing Gadhafi to Khmer Rouge despot Pol Pot, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
"I tell my brother Gadhafi - leave the Libyans alone," he said. "Please, the United Nations, save Libya. Let there be no bloodshed, no killing of innocents. We want a decisive, rapid and courageous resolution from you," Shalgham, a former childhood friend of Gadhafi, said.
Foreign nationals are being evacuated from Libya
Gadhafi's strongest European ally, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said in Rome on Saturday that he no longer appeared to be in control of Libya.
"It seems that effectively Gadhafi no longer controls the situation in Libya... If we can all come to an agreement, we can end this bloodbath and support the Libyan people," Berlusconi said.
Author: Natalia Dannenberg, David Levitz (Reuters, AFP, DPA)
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar