EU urges Gaddafi to step down as 'Libya is entering a new era'
15:16 22/08/2011 MOSCOW, August 22 (RIA Novosti) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime is in its "last moments" and Gaddafi should go to avoid more bloodshed, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday.
"We are witnessing the last moments of the Gaddafi regime. I call on Gaddafi to step down without further delay and avoid further bloodshed," she said.
Gaddafi may still be in Tripoli as fierce fighting continues around his residence in the country's capital, media reports said earlier in the day. Government forces are refusing to surrender despite the rebels having gained control of much of Tripoli and arrested two of Gaddafi's sons.
Ashton also called on the National Transitional Council and opposition forces to ensure the protection of civilians, respect international human rights and maintain peace and stability throughout the country.
"Today Libya is entering a new era. I salute the courage of those who have fought to make this possible. It is now time to launch a process of transition towards a new Libya, in which democratic principles, justice and human rights are fully respected," Ashton said.
She pledged EU support for democratic reform in the country.
"The EU will continue to offer support and will remain a strong and committed partner for the Libyan people," she said.
The embattled Gaddafi said on Sunday he "will stay till the end" and urged his supporters to keep fighting to liberate the capital from the rebels.
Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, however, said on Sunday the government was ready for immediate negotiations with the rebels.
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