Libya's U.S. Ambassador On Quitting, Libya's Future

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Libya remains in turmoil Tuesday but details are sketchy, as most foreign reporters are being kept out. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has responded to protesters demanding his ouster with airstrikes in the capital Tripoli. After Monday's bloodshed, security forces appear to be in control of the capital. But Libyans fleeing the eastern part of the country to neighboring Egypt say demonstrators have taken control in many areas, and several of Libya's diplomats have disowned the regime. Libya's now-former ambassador to the U.S., Ali Aujali, talks with Renee Montagne.


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Libya remains in turmoil this morning. Many of the details are still sketchy, as most foreign reporters are being kept out. Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, has hit back by ordering air strikes, bombing, and firing from above on protesters in the capital. After a day of heavy bloodshed, yesterday, the security forces appear to be in control of the capital, Tripoli, but Libyans fleeing the eastern part of the country to neighboring Egypt say that the demonstrators have taken control in many other areas. And in a dramatic turn, several of Libya's diplomats have disowned the regime.

One of them is Libya's now former ambassador to the U.S., Ali Aujali, who joins us on the line now. Welcome to MORNING EDITION.

Mr. ALI AUJALI: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: When, exactly, did you decide to quit and why?

Mr. AUJALI: Well, I decided, no more to represent the regime. That regime killing our people in a very brutal way, and using all kinds of weapons to kill innocent people just because they want to express their ideas, they want more freedom, they want to say yes and no. And I can't understand it. And they can't take it. And I've been with the government for a long time, but I can't really live with what I have seen. I can't really change it. And that's my position.

MONTAGNE: And you, although, have, as you said, served this government, this regime, for a long time. Mr. Gadhafi is quite a tough leader, many have called him a dictator for years. Um, you know, was the - I mean, has he not killed people before?

Mr. AUJALI: Yeah, but it's not the same way he's being now. We've been trying with honest people and (unintelligible) people to do whatever we can from our position, to serve the people and to reform the country. But unfortunately, we failed. And the regime is very tough and very feared and some people, they've been killed, and some people they're hanging during - since the regime in power. And what makes me really decided that I'm not be able to serve this regime, when the demonstration and protesters start taking place in Benghazi and when the son of Colonel Gadhafi came out and we are expecting to propose a solution for the crisis. But the only solution that he proposed, is that we (unintelligible) to the arms, to the weapons. And that - I can't take it.

MONTAGNE: What do you think will happen, in fact, in Libya? Will Gadhafi, he seems to be not ready at all to resign - doesn't seem possible for him to stay.

Mr. AUJALI: Well, I think as far as he has some control in Libya, will never leave. And this is why I'm asking that the national community, I'm asking the nongovernmental organization - and I asking the Western countries and member of the United Nations - they have to stand by the (unintelligible) people who are facing a massacre at this time. Libya has a small population facing the modern weapons of this regime.

MONTAGNE: What should, in your opinion, the U.S. do - specifically, to help the Libyan people?

Mr. AUJALI: They should raise their voice from - they should condemn what's happening in Libya and this is - I think, they did in the way of the (unintelligible). And there is a meeting, I understand, in the Security Council - must be a resolution to stop this killing. United Nations have many ways to stop the massacre of people.

MONTAGNE: There's been talk, quickly, of a ban over planes flying over Libya. There has been firing and strafing from planes, is that what you're talking about?

Mr. AUJALI: What happens - this is one of them, this is one of them -but the international community, they have to show their strong positions and they have to move quickly. There's no time to wait.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. AUJALI: Thanks.

MONTAGNE: Ali Aujali was Libya's ambassador to the U.S. until he quit, yesterday.

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