Celebrations erupted in Tripoli's newly minted Martyrs' Square after the death of Muammar Qadhafi, the embattled dictator of Libya whose rule stretched more than four decades, was reported Thursday. Leaders and activists have spoken out on news of Qadhafi's demise, many cheering the unlikely success of the rebels in toppling the man thought to be the modern Arab world's longest-ruling figure, according to the Associated Press.
Amid White House and State Department efforts to officially confirm reports, here's a look at the buzz surrounding Qadhafi's downfall and speculations on the future of the country he ruled:
Mahmoud Jibril, Libya's provisional prime minister:
"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Moammar Kadafi has been killed."
Former Massachusetts Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
"I think it's about time. Gaddafi—terrible tyrant that killed his own people and murdered Americans and others in the tragedy at Lockerbie. The world is a better place with Gaddafi gone."
Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry:
"The death of Muammar el-Qaddafi is good news for the people of Libya. It should bring the end of conflict there, and help them move closer to elections and a real democracy."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
"Clearly, this day marks an historic transition for Libya. In the coming days, we will witness scenes of celebration, as well as grief for those who lost so much. Yet let us recognize, immediately, that this is only the end of the beginning. The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges. The high hopes sustained through the long days of revolution and conflict must translate into opportunities and justice for all."
Sen. John McCain, in a statement:
"The death of Muammar Qaddafi marks an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution. While some final fighting continues, the Libyan people have liberated their country. Now the Libyan people can focus all of their immense talents on strengthening their national unity, rebuilding their country and economy, proceeding with their democratic transition, and safeguarding the dignity and human rights of all Libyans. The United States, along with our European allies and Arab partners, must now deepen our support for the Libyan people, as they work to make the next phase of their democratic revolution as successful as the fight to free their country."
Sen. John Kerry, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, in a statement via E-mail:
"Qaddafi's death marks the end of his reign of terror and the promise of a new Libya. Qaddafi denied Libya the basic building blocks of democracy and instead leaves behind a legacy of cruelty and international isolation. This is an extraordinary moment, but the days ahead will not be easy. The Middle East revolutions remind us that creating a free and tolerant political order is a more difficult challenge than removing a despotic one. The Libyan people have inspired the world with their incredible courage and fierce determination to be free. I urge the leaders of the Transitional National Council to begin the political transition to a permanent, democratically elected government. And I urge the international community to continue to stand with the Libyan people and support the creation of viable governing institutions."
President Barack Obama, in a press conference at the White House's Rose Garden
"This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya, who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny. Above all, today belongs to the people of Libya. This is a moment for them."
Update 10/20/11: This article was updated from its original version to include the reaction of President Barack Obama.