ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must step down after "murdering his own people" with military attacks against opponents, retired U.S. Gen. Colin Powell said Tuesday.
"I hope that Col. Gadhafi will soon come to the realization that murdering his own people is not a solution and that it is time for him to step aside," said Powell, who was senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during U.S. airstrikes on Libya in 1986.
Powell later served in many roles that involved assessing Gadhafi's regime, including as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State.
He said the new governments on either side of Libya — Tunisia and Egypt — could serve as models for the region on bringing about democratic change, "if it is done properly."
"The most powerful force at work today in the world is economic development and creation of wealth," said Powell, speaking at a regional security conference. "It is economic development and wealth creation that will lift people out of poverty, provide an education to young people, and create jobs for people."
Powell predicted only governments "wise enough to reform themselves" can easily ride out the wave of change in the Arab world, but he gave no specific examples.