Obama says Gaddafi government has violated international norms and must be held accountable [EPA]

Barack Obama, the US president, has imposed sanctions on Libya's government for its violent repression of a popular uprising, signing an executive order blocking property and transactions related to the country.

"These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya," Obama said in a statement late on Friday.

"By any measure, Muammar Gaddafi's government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable," the statement said.

"These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya.

"The Libyan government's continued violation of human rights, brutalization of its people, and outrageous threats have rightly drawn the strong and broad condemnation of the international community," the statement said.

"We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights, and a government that is responsive to their aspirations. Their human dignity cannot be denied."

Ashraf Tulti, Director, Justice and democracy for Libya based in Washington DC, told Al Jazeera that sanctions go against people, they will not affect the Libyan regime.

Instead, he asked for immediate actions to stop the killings of Libyan people.

Obama slapped the sanctions on Libya after a flight carrying more American evacuees left the violence-torn North African country and soon after a ferry carrying nearly 300 Americans and other foreigners arrived in Malta from Tripoli.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the sanctions were framed specifically to encourage members of the Libyan government to defect from the inner core of what is left of Gaddafi's power base.

Obama said in the executive order that there was a "serious risk" that Libyan state assets would be misappropriated by Gaddafi, members of his government and his family.

He said that the "prolonged attacks" and increased numbers of Libyans seeking refuge abroad posed a "serious risk" to the country's stability.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies