Libya regime spokesman confirms Kussa resignation

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The Libyan government on Thursday confirmed the resignation of foreign minister Mussa Kussa and said he was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment in neighbouring Tunisia.

"Mr Kussa asked for permission to seek medical care in Tunisia," spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told a news conference, adding that "permission was granted."

After that reports of his resignation surfaced, he said, adding that this was a personal decision and that Libya would not be affected by it although it would welcome back Kussa with "open arms" if he wishes to return.

Ibrahim also denied reports that other key Libyan officials had defected -- namely parliament speaker Mohammed Zwei and external intelligence chief Abu Zeid Durda.

"They are in Libya," he said when asked about Zwei and Durda.

"They are here, they are doing their jobs," he said, adding that Libyan officials are on the go every day on diplomatic missions.

"Our officials do travel daily by the way, and they do come back daily," he said, to negotiate with some world leaders, particularly African Union ones, over the crisis in Libya.

Kussa arrived at Farnborough Airfield, west of London, from Tunisia on Wednesday, after he resigned and travelled "under his own free will," according to Britain's Foreign Office.

Kussa, a former head of Libyan intelligence chief and one-time member of leader Kadhafi's inner circle, arrived unexpectedly in Britain on Wednesday and said he was resigning as foreign minister, the Foreign Office said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday that Kussa, a former ambassador to Britain who has been accused of masterminding the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, had not been offered immunity from prosecution.

"Mussa Kussa is not being offered any immunity from British or international justice," Hague told reporters.

Scottish prosecutors said on Thursday they had requested an interview with Kussa in connection with the bombing of a Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988, which killed 270 people.

Libyan agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was convicted of the bombing in 2001 and sent to a Scottish jail, although he was released on compassionate grounds in August 2009 because he was suffering from terminal cancer.

But relatives of the Lockerbie dead have long called for an investigation into who ordered and planned the crime.

Earlier the Libyan government spokesman had shrugged off Kussa's departure, saying Moamer Kadhafi's regime "does not depend on individuals."

"This is a struggle for the whole nation. It's not dependant on individuals or officials" regardless of their ranking, Ibrahim told reporters, declining to confirm Kussa's defection.

"I'm not confirming anything... silence is our weapon," he said earlier in the day.

And asked whether Kadhafi and his children are still in Libya, he said: "Be assured, we are all here. We will all be here until the end. It is our country. We are strong on all fronts."

© 2011 AFP

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