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A political uprising in North Africa and the Middle East began last month in Tunisia before spreading to Egypt, Libya and elsewhere. While the protests in Tunisia and Egypt were relatively peaceful, Gadhafi’s regime has cracked down hard on dissenters, and the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted Saturday night to impose military and financial sanctions against the leader. The Security Council also voted to refer the regime’s actions to a war crimes tribunal to investigate possible crimes against humanity.
Obama first called on Gadhafi to step down Saturday. He took the stance during a call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the situation in Libya.
“The President and the Chancellor shared deep concerns about the Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights and brutalization of its people,” according to a White House overview of the conversation released Saturday. “The President stated that when a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.”