By Ria Novosti
Soon after reports about the death of Libyan former strongman Muammar Gaddafi were confirmed, Western leaders hailed the end of his 42-year tyranny, calling it a landmark event for Libya.
Gaddafi died of his injuries near Sirte, the National Transitional Council said. The ousted dictator, who was reportedly wounded in both legs, was captured and taken away in an ambulance.
The Aljazeera satellite TV channel quoted a doctor who examined his body in Misrata as saying Gaddafi had died of bullet wounds to the head and abdomen. News agencies showed cell phone photos of Gaddafi’s corpse.
Gaddafi’s death ushered in a “historic transition” for Libya, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said. “It’s a historic event. It’s the beginning of a new period, of democracy, freedom and the rebuilding of the country.”
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Libyans “can now look to the future”. “After 10 months of extraordinary sacrifices, the Libyan people can say with pride and confidence that they have shaken off a regime that terrorized and oppressed for more than 40 years.” The EU will remain “a strong and committed” partner in the future, Ashton said.
European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek who is to arrive in Libya on Saturday said he is “happy to visit a country fully liberated from a dictator who imposed his iron fist for more than 40 years.”
“Now Libya can truly turn the page,” he added.
Gaddafi’s fate “should be a warning to other dictators in the region and in the world,” a Polish foreign ministry statement said, adding that Warsaw would have liked to have Gaddafi “tried for his crimes before a court in Libya or in The Hague.”
French foreign minister Alain Juppe said France was “proud” to have helped bring freedom to the country, referring to the role of French forces in NATO action in Libya during the seven-month conflict.
“The announcement of the death of Gaddafi and the collapse of Sirte is the end of a very difficult period for the Libyan people. It’s the end of 42 years of tyranny, of a military conflict that has been very difficult for the Libyan people,” Mr Juppe told reporters in New Delhi.
Russian politicians were far less jubilant. “We do not believe Muammar Gaddafi is dead. He is a wise man, an African Karl Marx, a Libyan [Giuseppe] Garibaldi, and he had a huge pile of money,” said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the flamboyant leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party.
“Knowing the fate of Saddam Hussein and other Arab leaders, there is little chance Gaddafi let other people capture, wound or kill him,” Zhirinovsky said, adding that in his view “Gaddafi long ago moved to a safe place.”
The death of the former Libyan leader also upset the president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. “If reports about Gaddafi’s death prove true, his death will be perceived with grief in many countries. People realize the underlying reasons of this war, in which he fought not only against rebels, but against NATO forces.”