News / Africa

Libya's Foreign Minister Resigns, Arrives in Britain

Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa (file photo)
Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa has arrived in Britain and has declared he is leaving Moammar Gadhafi's government.

The British foreign office said Wednesday that Koussa traveled from Tunisia to London under his own free will, telling officials he is resigning his post. British officials urged Mr. Gadhafi's other supporters to desert him as well.

A Libyan government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, denied the foreign minister has defected, saying he is in Britain on a "diplomatic mission." Libya's justice and interior ministers resigned early in the conflict and joined the rebels fighting in the east.

U.S. officials called Koussa's resignation "very significant," and an example of growing splits inside the Libyan government. The foreign minister has been a close confidant of Mr. Gadhafi and served as his intelligence chief for more than a decade.

In Washington, the White House repeated that no decision has been made to provide arms to rebel forces in Libya. Wednesday's statement was issued amid reports that President Barack Obama has approved a secret authorization for covert efforts to support anti-government rebels.

The New York Times reported that the CIA has put an unknown number of operatives into Libya to gather intelligence and make contact with anti-Gadhafi forces. The newspaper said the CIA declined comment on the report, which quoted what it called current and former British officials as saying British special forces and intelligence officers also are in the North African nation.

Earlier Wednesday, troops loyal to Mr. Gadhafi drove anti-government rebels from key coastal cities they had seized days before, reversing opposition gains made since international airstrikes began.

Libyan rebels retreated amid intense fighting around the strategic oil towns of Ras Lanuf and Brega. Many opposition fighters fell back to the city of Ajdabiya, from where residents were seen fleeing along the road toward the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.

Pro-Gadhafi forces were shelling Brega and a rebel military spokesman said he expected the loyalists to enter the city by Wednesday night.

The spokesman ((Colonel Ahmad Bani)) also said as many as 3,600 heavily armed members of the Chadian Republican Guard are now fighting alongside Gadhafi loyalists. He dismissed concerns that members of al-Qaida are fighting with the Libyan rebels.

On Tuesday, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis told a congressional hearing that groups such as al-Qaida and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia have a small presence among the Libyan opposition. He also said the opposition leadership appeared to be "responsible men and women" fighting the Libyan government.

A prominent U.S.-based rights group said Wednesday that Mr. Gadhafi's forces have laid land mines around Ajdabiya when the coastal city was under their control earlier this month. In a statement from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Human Rights Watch said a civil defense team found more than 50 anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines in a heavily traveled area.

A U.S. military spokesman said coalition airplanes resumed bombing pro-Gadhafi troops Wednesday, although the timing and location of those strikes was not specified.

Western nations began enforcing a United Nations-authorized no-fly zone over Libya on March 19 to protect civilians from harm.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid