As celebrations in Libya following the death of former leader Moammar Gadhafi continued into Friday, world leaders lined up to urge Libyan's to embark on a new democratic future.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for "forgiveness," "reconciliation" and "unity," asserting that Gadhafi's death is not a cause for celebration, despite his crimes.
Speaking in Berlin on Thursday German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed Libya's opportunity for a new beginning. "Gadhafi waged war against his own people," she said.
"The path is now finally clear for a fresh political start, in peace. Germany is relieved and very happy about this," she added.
Meanwhile US President Barack Obama called the death a "momentous day in the history of Libya," while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the events in Libya as a "historic transition" for the country.
"The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges," Ban said.
The former Libyan dictator was reportedly killed by forces loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC) following his capture in his hometown Sirte ending his 42-year rule.
With the last pockets of resistance in Sirte now defeated NATO is expected to announce Friday the end of its seven-month military operation in Libya.
Sarkozy echoed comments made by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe earlier in the day that France considers NATO's campaign in Libya to be over.
"Clearly the operation is coming to its end," Sarkozy told reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO ambassadors largely expected to result in NATO withdrawal.
"I think we can say that the military operation is over, that the whole of Libyan territory is under control of the National Transitional Council and that, subject to a few transitional measures in the coming week, NATO's operation has come to an end," Juppe told France's Europe 1 radio.
NATO, acting under a UN mandate, has enforced a no-fly zone over Libya since March in an attempt to prevent attacks on civilians.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned, however, that the alliance should not rush its withdrawal.
"We want to be sure there are no other pockets of pro-Gadhafi supporters," said Hague. "We will only go when we are sure there is no further threat to the civilian population or when the National Transitional Council asks us to go."
The burial of the 69-year-old slain Libyan dictator, initially expected to take place in secret on Friday, was delayed as the UN human rights office called for an investigation into his death.
According to officials from the NTC, Gadhafi was killed by a bullet wound to the head after he was caught in crossfire between his supporters and the new regime fighters. Speculation remained, however, that he may have been executed by his captors.
"We believe there is a need for an investigation," a spokesman for UN human rights chief Navi Pillay told a news briefing in Geneva.
"More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in some form of fighting or was executed after his capture."
"The two cell phone videos that have emerged, one of him alive, and one of him dead, taken together are very disturbing," he added.
A government force commander confirmed on Friday that Gadhafi would still be buried within 24 hours according to Muslim rites. The burial location was not disclosed.
The NTC is to formally announce the liberation of the country on Saturday, paving the way for Libya's first free and fair elections.
Acting Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, who announced Gadhafi's death at a press conference on Thursday, said he will step down to make way for others to guide the nation toward democracy.
"The forming of the new government is subject to the NTC and I myself will not be part of that new government," Jibril said in the capital Tripoli.
"I would like to call on Libyans to put aside the grudges and only say one word, which is Libya, Libya, Libya," he added.
The NTC has previously said it would form a new interim government within a month of liberation and would hold elections within eight months.
Author: Charlotte Chelsom-Pill (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler