Time for Kadhafi to step down, says EU
(BRUSSELS) - Leading European Union figures urged defiant Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi to quit on Wednesday as warships from the United States, Britain and Canada homed in on the north African coast.
"It is time for him to go and give the country back to the people of Libya, allowing democratic forces to chart out a future course," said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
"The situation we are seeing in Libya is simply atrocious and we cannot accept it," said the head of the 27-nation European Union's executive arm.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also stepped up the rhetoric, after Kadhafi, who seized power in a 1969 coup, warned "thousands" would die if the West intervened to support the uprising against him.
"I've been worried again today by reports of more violence in Libya, I join with those who tell Colonel Kadhafi to stand aside," she said after talks with deputy British premier Nick Clegg.
"It's very important that he listens to the people," Ashton underlined.
Clegg meanwhile said Britain was looking at "every contingency" including "a no-fly zone," although he stressed such a complicated operation was "not something we would do on our own."
Moves to impose a no-fly zone to prevent Kadhafi striking on his own territory and peoples has hit difficulties with NATO member Turkey and especially with veto-wielding Russia on the United Nations Security Council.
Clegg also said that long-term, EU policies towards its north African neighbourhood need "revamped from top to toe."
As rebels repulsed an attack by loyalist forces on an eastern town, Kadhafi spoke out after the UN refugee agency made a plea for hundreds of planes to airlift "acres of people" waiting in freezing conditions to cross the Libyan border into Tunisia.
NATO allies were still split however on whether to unleash their military might to stop Kadhafi's reprisals against rebels.
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