Another offical flees Tripoli

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NY Times:

As rebel forces began a cautious regrouping after a panicked retreat, an atmosphere of paranoia descended on the Libyan capital of Tripoli following the defection of the country’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa.

Fears that the regime could be cracking were deepened further when a second top Libyan official, Ali Abdussalam el-Treki, defected Thursday to Egypt. In decades of service, Mr. Treki had served as both foreign minister and as ambassador to the United Nations, where he was president of the General Assembly.

The capital of Tripoli was alive with rumored defections on Thursday, with the prime minister and the speaker of Parliament, among other top figures, said at various times to be quitting the country. None of those reports could be verified. But the authorities were taking no chances, assigning guards to senior officials to assure they cannot leave, a former Libyan official said.

Other than Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s sons, the only other official as close to the Libyan leader as Mr. Koussa is Adbdullah Senussi, his brother-in-law and a top security adviser. Like the Qaddafi family, his whereabouts were unknown Thursday, but there were no credible reports that he had fled.

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The Independent reports that the UK is talking to 10 more aids about defecting from Libya.

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But despite official denials, unverified rumours circulating in Tripoli focused most closely on Abuzed Omar Durda, head of the external intelligence service, Mohammed Zwei, the Secretary of the General People's Congress, Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulati Al Obeidi, who accompanied Moussa Koussa at least as far as Tunis on the first leg of what turned out to be the Foreign Minister's flight to the UK, and – despite an interview with Reuters from his office in Tripoli – the urbane Shukri Ghanem, Oil Minister.

Rebels claimed that Mr Durda had been sent to "liquidate" Mr Koussa but instead joined a group of Libyan officials at Tunisia's Djerba airport who were planning to defect.

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It is hard to judge the value of these defections since the government is not really functioning on anything other than survival mode right now, leaving many of these guys without much to do. I suspect Qaddafi sees this as an opportunity to put more of his family in powerful positions.
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