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Reporter's Note: President Obama spoke today about the death of the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Dear Mr. President,
Gadhafi is gone. Finally. Strange to say it, in a way, because he has been a fixture in the world for so very long, it seemed as if he would never actually be chased from power, let alone killed. I’m not thrilled about the gruesome images of his dead body that I’ve seen on TV all day, but then again, I suppose they were necessary. When someone has survived so many attempts by people to take his power, take his life, take the country back for the citizens, we might want to forgive their need for proof that he has finally fallen.
It reminds me of the death pictures of Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife following the Romanian revolution. They were executed on Christmas Day, 1989. I remember how awful and stunning the images were at the time, and yet seen from the distance of a couple of decades, they now seem so simple; so matter of fact.
There the Communist President and his wife, Elena, are seated at a plain table before a military tribunal. Both are wearing winter coats as if the room is cold. He speaks and gestures with great energy and animation. She rests her head in her hand as if bored.
At one point he throws his hat onto the table in apparent disgust. Then both their voices rise as they stand and soldiers approach to tie them. You can speak any language, and yet clearly understand their struggles against the bonds, and her repeated cries, “No! No! No!” Then comes the bleak courtyard. Then the roar of gunfire and the blue blur of smoke. Then there is nothing but two old people slumped in pools of blood; bodies collapsed into those impossible positions that gravity would pull us all into were it not for the latent power of living muscles and tendons.
At the time that was news of great importance. What has proven more important over the years, however, is what happened next. The story of Romania, freed from its brutal leader, has not been perfect, but it has been decidedly better. Economic, cultural, and political growth have become part of the national future; the notion of an autocratic thug ruling with an iron fist, a steadily fading part of the past.
So what will happen in Libya? No one knows for sure. But certainly the story now is not about the one who died, but rather those who live on, and what they will do with their new freedom.
Before he was killed on October 20, 2011, Moammar Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for 42 years. The dictator was known for bizarre behavior, peculiar tastes and the brutality he inflicted on his people. Look back on pictures of historic moments and meetings during his rule.
Join us tonight at 8 p.m. ET for the latest coverage on the death of Moammar Gadhafi.
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(CNN) - Fighting in Libya started with anti-government demonstrations in February and escalated into a civil war.
Libyan fighters announced the fall of the last stronghold of former leader Moammar Gadhafi, and reports have since surfaced that Gadhafi was killed in the fighting.
International powers have accused Gadhafi's regime of committing human rights violations and killing civilians.
Here are some key points CNN has reported in the conflict.
Three days after the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, calls go out on Facebook for peaceful demonstrations in Libya against leader Moammar Gadhafi. The Libyan leader, who ruled over the country for more than four decades, voiced support for Mubarak during the Egyptian crisis.
About 200 demonstrators protesting the arrest of a human activist take to the streets in the coastal city of Benghazi, witnesses say. Several of them are arrested amid confrontations with police. A highly placed source close to the Libyan government tells CNN, "There is nothing serious here. These are just young people fighting each other."
Editor's note: Tune in to AC360 at 8 p.m. ET for the latest on Gadhafi's death, reaction from around the world and what's next for Libya.
(CNN) - The death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who was killed Thursday in his hometown of Sirte, Libya, is "an important step" for Libya, but don't expect the fighting to end right away, said CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman. Wedeman, the first Western television reporter to enter and report from inside Libya during the war, talked about how Gadhafi's life ended and what his death means for Libya's future and the civil war.
(CNN) - Libyans erupted in jubilation Thursday following unconfirmed reports that ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi may have been captured or killed.
A "cacophany of celebration" could be heard in Tripoli, as ships and cars blasted their horns and shots were fired into the air, said CNN's Dan Rivers.
"It is very, very loud - a lot of excitement," Rivers said.
"It's a great moment," said Mahmoud Shammam, information minister for Libya's National Transitional Council. "I've been waiting for this moment for decades, and I'm thanking God that I'm alive to see this moment."
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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