ABC News’ David Kerley (@David_Kerley) reports from Martha’s Vineyard:
President Obama declared today that “the Gadhafi regime is coming to an end and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.” That, even though the administration admits it doesn’t know where Moammar Gadhafi is, or the fact that he has not surrendered.
So, the President warned, “this is not over yet. As the regime collapses there is still fierce fighting in some areas,” Obama said, “and we have reports of regime elements threatening to continue fighting.”
While saying Gadhafi’s rule is over, Mr. Obama did appear to send a message to the man who has ruled Libya for 42 years.
“He still has the opportunity to reduce further bloodshed by explicitly relinquishing power to the people of Libya and calling for those forces that continue to fight to lay down their arms for the sake of Libya,” the President said at the 38 acre estate where he is vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard.
The U.S. and several of its allies have recognized the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the governing body for Libya. But Mr. Obama had a warning for the rebel group as well.
“The opposition should continue to take important steps to bring about a transition that is peaceful, inclusive and just,” the President said, adding, “True justice will not come from reprisals and violence; it will come from reconciliation and a Libya that allows its citizens to determine their own destiny.”
This is not the end of U.S. involvement in Libya. The President promised humanitarian aid immediately, and said there will be a longer term commitment to the TNC as it attempts to govern. He called for an inclusive transition.
“The United States will be a friend and a partner,” adding, “our diplomats will work with the TNC as they ensure that the institutions of the Libyan state are protected.”
The U.S. is already working to unfreeze Libyan assets which the TNC could use to govern.
The President pointed out the progress to oust Gadhafi was made without putting American military boots on the ground. Both the White House and the Pentagon said that won’t change. U.S. forces will not be part of any peacekeeping force, if one is needed.
The President’s eight minute statement came after he conducted a conference call with his national security team.