Gaddafi ‘days numbered’ after top diplomat’s departure


PARIS – The departure of Libya’s foreign minister Mussa Kussa means the Gaddafi regime’s “days are numbered,” defected immigration minister Ali Errishi told on Thursday.
Kussa’s arrival in Britain was a “sign that the regime’s days are numbered. It is the end… it is a blow to the regime (and) others will follow,” said Errishi.
“I always said they are all held hostages in Tripoli. It is amazing how Mr Kussa was able to flee the country,” said the ex-minister who himself defected soon after an uprising erupted in Libya in mid-February.
“Kussa was his most trusted aide. Gaddafi no longer has anybody. It’s just him and his kids.”
Kussa arrived at Farnborough Airfield, west of London, from Tunisia on Wednesday, after he travelled “under his own free will,” Britain’s Foreign Office said, adding: “He has told us that he is resigning his post.”
Asked what Britain would question the former top diplomat about, Errishi said: “If there is anything to know, he should be able to know it.”
“(He knows) what is going on in Libya, where they get their arms from… He could be very beneficial and this is an opportunity for Mr Kussa to make up for a lot of bad (things).
“This is end of the regime. The brutal rule is about to be over. No-one knows the regime better than Mr Kussa,” Errishi said.
Kussa is credited as having been a key figure in Libya’s efforts to improve its international reputation before the current crisis.
Libya’s defected deputy ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told France 24 in a separate interview that Kussa’s move “was very important at this stage because he knows a lot of secrets of the regime. He has been working with the Gaddafi regime for a long period now.”
Errishi said that while he was no longer in touch with people still in the Gaddafi regime, he knew most of them were patriots who are discovering “the man to whom they gave their loyalty is not the man they thought he was.”
According to Dabbashi: “Many high officials have the intention to defect at this stage but they don’t have the chance. We expect more to defect as they see the killing of their own people on the hands of the Gaddafi security forces and their mercenaries.”
Kussa, 59, was installed as Gaddafi’s foreign minister in March 2009 after having served as the head of Libya’s intelligence agency from 1994.
Washington promptly hailed his departure as a major blow to the regime in Tripoli.
“This is a very significant defection and an indication that people around Gaddafi think the writing’s on the wall,” a senior official in the US administration said.
Several senior members of Gaddafi’s entourage, including ministers and senior military officers, have defected since the uprising against his 42-year-rule broke out more than a month ago.
Libya’s opposition Transitional National Council features a number of former senior figures in Gaddafi’s regime.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who quit as justice minister in February in protest at the crackdown on protesters, heads up the body.
Abdulrahman Shalgham, Libya’s envoy to the UN and a former foreign minister, has also joined the opposition.
Scores of Libyan diplomats across the world have also resigned.