(Updated throughout; adds fresh quotes)
WASHINGTON, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Libya's ambassador to the United States on Tuesday called on Washington to speak up strongly in defense of the Libyan people, saying it is time to get rid of the government of Muammar Gaddafi.
Ambassador Ali Aujali told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he no longer represents his country's government and called on Gaddafi to step aside to avoid further bloodshed.
"I need the United States to raise their voice very strongly. This regime is shaking and this is the time to get rid of it," Aujali said, referring to expected U.N. Security Council deliberations about the crisis in Libya.
"Please, please, help the Libyan people. Help them. They are burning," he added. "We need the world to stand up by us."
Meanwhile, Gaddafi scoffed at reports that he had left Libya after four decades in power while he was reported to have used tanks, helicopters and warplanes to try to suppress a growing anti-government demonstrations.
Al Jazeera reported that warplanes bombed portions of Tripoli in fresh attacks while mercenaries fired on civilians.
"I am calling for him to go and leave our people alone," Aujali said.
"I resign from serving the current dictatorship regime. But I will never resign from serving our people until their voices reach the whole world, until their goals are achieved." (Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Jackie Frank)