The UK is reportedly hosting a senior aide to the Libyan regime who is believed to be seeking an exit strategy for the leader Muammar Gaddafi. This follows the defection of Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa.
Media sources suggest that at least ten top-ranking Libyan officials may flee the country.
So far there are two confirmed defections in Gaddafi’s ranks. The first is Moussa Koussa who was the foreign minister and is now in London holding discussions with British officials, despite the fact that they were quick to declare the defector will not be granted any political immunity.
The other is Ali Abdussalam Treki, another former Libyan foreign minister who has been occupying the post of Libya’s ambassador to the UN where he served a term as the president of the General Assembly – he also has announced his departure.
There is no doubt this is a heavy psychological blow for Muammar Gaddafi, whose regime seems on the verge of crumbling.
But in Tripoli the government laughed off all suggestions of the defections.
Libyan authorities denied Koussa’s defection, saying he was suffering from diabetes and officially approached the officials to seek treatment abroad. The official spokesman of Libya Ibrahim Moussa acknowledged that if Moussa Koussa returns to Tripoli he will be welcomed back. Ibrahim Moussa said there have been no other consequential departures from the regime and they do not expect any other people to leave – despite rumors about ten other possible departures.
It is known that several Libyan top officials who are in Tunisia for talks are actually staying there and among them is the country’s former prime minister and the current head of the Libyan parliament – Libyan authorities said they are simply unaware of this.
One of Gaddafi’s closest aides is said to have been holding secret talks with the British establishment in London seeking an exit strategy for Gaddafi.
Defections of high profile members and the exit negotiations raise questions about how much longer the Gaddafi regime can survive.
Nevertheless, Gaddafi’s troops are still advancing. The current fighting takes place around the strategically oil important town of Brega. Both sides use small trucks to carry heavy machine guns, mortars and rocket launchers to strike from behind sand dunes.
The poorly organized rebels still seek assistance from the international community for weapons.
Fighting in the western part of the country, in the city of Misurata, continues. RT was told that over the last 24 hours at least 20 civilians have been killed by government shelling in residential areas.
In Tripoli, there have been air strikes and anti-aircraft gunfire for two weeks now. There are almost non-stop demonstrations in support of the Libyan leader, with one held overnight at his compound Bab al-Azizia.
At the same time, the Vatican’s top envoy to Libya, Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, confirmed that at least 40 civilians have been killed in air strikes in Tripoli alone – most of the casualties were in the eastern Tripoli suburb of Tajura. In one incident, a house collapsed on a family with small children inside.
Libyan state television presenters have read a statement from Gaddafi saying that NATO air strikes will only cause more civilian deaths and spark a crusader warю