In a clear message to Muammar Gaddafi and his aides, the United States has said they would be held accountable for human rights violations against their own people, even if the Libyan leader leaves the country, putting an end to his over four-decade long regime.
"We want to see Gaddafi step down, and one would infer that in stepping down it is probably best for him to leave the country, to allow a different government to emerge. Any departure from Libya does not exempt him, his family, or others from responsibility and accountability for what has occurred," US State Department spokesman P J Crowley told mediapersons at his daily news conference.
There's nothing preventing Gaddafi from leaving his tent, climbing in an airplane, and leaving Libya so his people can have a better tomorrow than they have today. There's nothing preventing him from doing that, he said.
"As we indicated in the United Nations Security Council resolution, there is a commission of inquiry underway within the International Criminal Court. And within the constraints of the US law, we will support that commission of inquiry.
"We are going to hold him accountable. There is a commission of inquiry under the ICC. So my favorite booking would be a trip to The Hague. But we have called for him to step down, and in all likelihood, the best way to end the current violence is for him to leave the country," Crowley said.
The US official said that by turning lethal overwhelming force against his people, Gaddafi has forfeited legitimacy.
"He has no right to self defense. What he has a right to do is step down for the good of his people and the good of his country. We are focused, unlike Gaddafi, on the welfare of both his people and others who are inside Libya. We are looking to see how we can address the humanitarian situation in Libya. We are reviewing a number of options," he said.