(CNN)-In a display of trans-continental cooperation, President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy declare in a co-written op-ed, “It is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gadhafi in power.”
“The United States, France, and Britain have been united from the start in responding to the crisis in Libya and we are united on what needs to happen to end it,” they say in the article, set to appear Friday in the International Herald Tribune - the international edition of the New York Times –and also the French daily Le Figaro and British daily the Times of London.
The three world leaders describe the motivation behind a continued presence in Libya in the opinion piece titled, "Libya's Pathway to Peace," that includes the protection of civilians. “We are determined to look to the future. We are convinced that better times lie ahead for the people of Libya,” they say.
Explaining the necessity for military operations, they ask others to “never forget” that “the people of Libya looked to the world in their hour of need” after the country “descended into chaos with Colonel Moammar Gadhafi attacking his own people.”
By taking action “immediately,” the heads of state say, “our countries, together with an international coalition, halted the advance of Gadhafi’s forces and prevented the bloodbath that he had promised to inflict upon the citizens.”
But for them, the work is not over. Citing “suffering” and “terrible horrors” that continue in Ajdabiya and Misurata, they state, “The evidence of disappearances and abuses grows daily.”
And though responsibilities continue, the leaders draw a line between duties in the region and ousting Gadhafi by force.
“Our duty and our mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that,” they write. “It is not to remove Gadhafi by force.”
And if the world were to accept a Gadhafi-led Libya, not only would Libyans face “a fearful vengeance,” but also, “it would be an unconscionable betrayal,” according to Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy.
They outline a “pathway to peace” for Libya free of the “fearful vengeance” of Gadhafi, who is called on by the leaders to pull back from cities that his regime continues to attack.
The article argues that, “A genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin” if, and only if, Gadhafi gives up power.
“In order for that transition to succeed, Gadhafi must go and go for good,” they declared.
The three leaders stand by NATO’s presence in Libya while Gadhafi remains in power, and give credit to NATO operations for protecting civilians and building pressure on Gadhafi’s regime.
The commentary illustrates a vision for Libya’s future but the authors make clear that future will not depend upon them, saying, “It will be the people of Libya, not the U.N., who choose their new constitution, elect their new leaders, and write the next chapter in their history.”
But speaking for actions that will be taken to ensure that Libyans have that opportunity, Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy say, “Britain, France and the United States will not rest until the United Nations Security Council resolutions have been implemented and the Libyan people can choose their own future.”