Thursday, March 31, 2011

Senior Libyan official resigns, new blow to regime

AJDABIYA, Libya (AP) -- Opponents of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were knocked back by government troops for a third straight day Thursday but took heart in a sign that the embattled regime is cracking at the highest levels: the defection of the second top official in roughly 48 hours.

AP PhotoAli Abdessalam Treki, a former foreign minister and U.N. General Assembly president, had been named to represent Libya at the United Nations after a wave of defections early in the uprising. But Treki, who is currently in Cairo, said in a statement posted on several opposition websites that he was not going to accept that job or any other.

"We should not let our country fall into an unknown fate," he said. "It is our nation's right to live in freedom, democracy and a good life."

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa flew to England from Tunisia on Wednesday and the British government said he had resigned. He is privy to all the inner workings of the regime, so his departure could open the door for some hard intelligence, though Britain refused to offer him immunity from prosecution.

"We believe that the regime is crumbling from within," opposition spokesman Mustafa Gheriani said in Benghazi, the rebels' de facto capital.