Thursday, March 31, 2011
(Click on cartoon by Dave Brown to enlarge)
Inner circle turn their backs on besieged Libyan dictator
By Cahal Milmo, Oliver Wright and Donald Macintyre in Tripoli
"The British Government said it was in urgent talks with up to another 10 senior figures in Colonel Gaddafi's creaking regime about possible defection following the dramatic arrival in Britain of the Libyan dictator's chief henchman for much of his 40 years in power. As former foreign minister Moussa Koussa was reported to be "talking voluntarily" to British officials yesterday, the Libyan regime was desperately struggling to limit the damage of the stunning desertion, suggesting he was exhausted and suffering from mental problems. But its capacity to stop the domino effect appeared to be limited. The Independent understands that British officials are already in contact with up to 10 leading Libyan officials about following Mr Koussa's lead and deserting Gaddafi. As Libyan diplomats at the United Nations said they expected further defections and reports emerged that a senior figure in the country's London embassy had changed sides, David Cameron said others should now "come to their senses". Meanwhile, speculation was rife in Tripoli that a series of defections was imminent. And it was reinforced by the confirmation that Ali Abussalam Treki, a top Libyan official who had also served as foreign minister and UN ambassador, had quit over the "spilling of blood" by government forces....."