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“After Musa Kusa’s defection, these people are under very heavy guard by Gadhafi’s forces. It will be very difficult for them [to defect] except if they manage to escape,” Mr. Aujali told The Washington Times.

The regime was hit by another important defection on Thursday.

Ali Abdessalam Treki, a former foreign minister picked by Col. Gadhafi to serve as his ambassador to the United Nations in New York, fled to Egypt on Thursday.

In a phone interview from Cairo, Mr. Treki told The Times he was tired of seeing Libyans suffer.

“When I see my country suffering and when I see the bloodshed continuing, that worried me a lot. We want peace, a cease-fire and to try to save the country,” he said.

Col. Gadhafi issued a defiant statement Thursday after defections by Mr. Kusa and Mr. Treki, accusing Western leaders of being “affected by power madness” and wanting to create another war between Muslims and Christians, according to an Associated Press report.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy U.N. ambassador, was the first Libyan official to ditch the regime after the start of the pro-democracy uprising in February. His boss, U.N. Ambassador Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, and Mr. Aujali soon followed.

Mr. Treki declined to comment on Mr. Kusa’s defection or whether others in the regime are planning their departures.

He also refused to say whether he believed it was time for Col. Gadhafi to step down.

“It doesn’t matter who is in power,” he said. “The most important thing is that we stop fighting.”

In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Mr. Kusa is not being offered any immunity from British or international justice.

“His resignation shows that Gadhafi’s regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within. Gadhafi must be asking himself who will be the next to abandon him,” Mr. Hague said.

A Libyan dissident who quit the regime in the 1980s, said on the condition of anonymity, that Mr. Kusa would likely provide a lot of useful information on the morale within Col. Gadhafi’s inner circle.

“But the fact remains that he is a criminal, and it is essential he gets a fair trial and proper judgment,” he said. “People like him who commit such heinous crimes and just go free because they abandoned the regime — that would be a serious mistake.”