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Libya, world reacts to Saif Gadhafi's address

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Gadhafi's son addresses Libya
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: U.S. is monitoring the situation in Libya and seeking "clarification" from officials
  • Muslim Brotherhood leader of Saif Gadhafi: "He is worse than his father"
  • Medical worker in Benghazi of Saif Gadhafi: "He is a liar!"
  • Information out of Libya is hard to confirm, but CNN interviewed witnesses by phone

(CNN) -- The White House is "analyzing" the speech of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi to see "what possibilities it contains for meaningful reform," a senior U.S. administration official said Sunday night after the Libyan leader's son took to the airwaves to propose speedy implementation of significant democratic reforms following days of anti-government demonstrations.

The same source confirmed that President Barack Obama was monitoring the situation in Libya and "considering all appropriate actions."

The increased violence seen this weekend has prompted the White house to seek "clarification" from senior Libyan officials, the source added. "We continue to raise with (Libyan officials) the need to avoid violence against peaceful protesters and respect universal rights."

The terminology echoed an earlier statement from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

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In a speech on Libyan state television that he said was unscripted, Gadhafi warned of a civil war and mass poverty if citizens sided with anti-government demonstrators.

"Tomorrow, we can speak rationally, we can spare the blood, we can stand all together for the sake of Libya," he said. But if the unrest continues, "forget about democracy, forget about reform ... It will be a fierce civil war."

Events in Libya are very difficult to confirm, since the government maintains tight control on communications and has not responded to repeated CNN requests for access to the country.

Inside Libya, a local leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the coastal city, Misurata, was unimpressed by Gadhafi's speech.

"He is worse than his father," the leader said. "His claims about the establishment of Islamic emirates in the country is not true at all.

"Despite our differences, Libyans are all one," he continued. "They are all out on the streets against the regime. He called the protesters unstable! It is the regime members who are not stable for spending the country's wealth on petty things!"

The country's second-largest city, Benghazi, has seen some of the bloodiest clashes since protests began.

A staff member working at the Benghazi Medical Center said of Gadhafi: "He is a liar. Contrary to what Saif said, there are no divisions among Libyans. We are proud to be free from this regime. We have liberated the east of the country and we want to be united with our brothers and sisters in the east. ... All Libyans think this way, it is the regime that lacks knowledge about the people."

Meanwhile, a journalist working in the capital Tripoli said the speech caused further confusion.

"But most do not believe his talk of civil war," the journalist said. "Earlier, thousands went to the streets chanting anti-government slogans calling on Gadhafi to leave the country. But now after the speech some pro-government crowds gathered in the downtown area."

Human Rights Watch researcher Fred Abrahams said that he didn't believe the speech would placate crowds of people who are looking for change.

"There's been so much resentment built up over four decades of rule," he said. "Serious violations, disappearances, political killings, total restrictions on freedom of assembly, no free media, and corruption ... And those resentments bubble up from Libyans."

CNN's Ben Brumfield and Anna Coren contributed to this report

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