French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Libya’s leader Muammar Qaddafi to quit power and said the United Nations must start an investigation into possible crimes in the North African nation amid reports that worshippers were being shot as they left mosques after Friday prayers.
“France’s position is clear, Mr. Qaddafi must go,” Sarkozy said at a news conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara today. “The repeated and systematic violence against the Libyan people is unacceptable and must be submitted to investigation and sanctions.”
The possibility of civil war in North Africa’s biggest oil producer pushed crude prices to a 2 1/2-year high and led to calls for intervention to stop the worst violence yet in two months of spreading Middle East and North African unrest. France and the U.K. will submit plans for an arms embargo and other sanctions against Libya at the United Nations Security Council.
Gul said the region “needs immediate peace, democracy, supremacy of law, human rights and basic freedoms” and that it must complete the process of change “without allowing in chaos.” Gul said Turkey is “in constant contact with Libyan authorities and we make all our sensitivity on this subject clear.”
Sarkozy said he wants the International Court of Justice in The Hague to examine events in Libya. He called for sanctions against “those who are continuing to collaborate with Mr. Qaddafi.”
The French leader cautioned about any foreign military intervention in Libya because it would fuel “the credibility of those inside who crazily say that there is a foreign plot” to overthrow North African and Middle East leaders.
Sarkozy said he spoke yesterday with President Barack Obama about the region’s unrest.
“Without a doubt this is a historical turning point that no one had predicted,” Sarkozy said. “We must adapt ourselves to the new geopolitical reality.”