German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy led calls for European Union sanctions against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as political unrest continued in the North African nation.
Merkel said that Qaddafi’s televised speech yesterday in which he threatened his own people with civil war was “alarming.” Sarkozy said today that France may suspend economic and commercial relations with Libya, according to an e-mailed statement in Paris.
The European Union in Brussels is suspending negotiations with the Libyan government on an EU-Libya Framework Agreement and said the 27-nation bloc “is ready to take further measures.” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said “those responsible for the brutal aggression and violence against civilians will be held to account.”
Qaddafi has vowed to fight a growing rebellion until his “last drop of blood,” as army units defected and a former aide said his regime may crumble within days. Human Rights Watch says 300 people have already died in the violence.
Sarkozy said he is asking “European partners to rapidly adopt concrete sanctions so that those who are implicated in the violence know that they must bear the consequences of their actions,” according to the statement. “These measures should include the possibility of making people face justice, blocking access to the European Union, and the surveillance of financial movements.”
French government spokesman Francois Baroin called Libya’s unrest “chaos” and told reporters that France is “determined” to see Europe act against Libya’s leader through sanctions and the suspension of all trade.
“If the use of violence doesn’t stop, Germany will call for us to use all avenues of pressure and influence on Libya, including the question of talking about sanctions,” Merkel said.
EU President Herman Van Rompuy called “for an immediate end to the use of force” in Libya. “I have seen horrible crimes that are unacceptable and must not remain without Consequences,” he said.
European countries have started evacuating the 10,000 EU citizens in Libya, Olivier Bailly, an EU spokesman, said in Brussels. France yesterday started repatriating about 750 citizens living in Libya with companies including oil-producer Total SA sending their French employees back home.
Two German Luftwaffe transport planes and a chartered Lufthansa AG jet flew out about 350 Germans and Europeans yesterday, the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin said in a statement. The German government believes that about 250 Germans remain in Libya, according to the statement.