- Associated Press - Thursday, March 31, 2011

CAIRO (AP) — A senior Libyan official said Thursday he is resigning his post, the second high-profile defection from Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in as many days.

Ali 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 Mr. Treki, who is currently in Cairo, said in a statement posted on several opposition websites that he’s 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.”

The announcement comes a day after ex-Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa flew to England and told the British government he was resigning as well. The defections are a sign the regime is cracking at the highest levels and give a boost to Libyan rebels after a string of military setbacks in the east.

Mr. Treki did not give more details, but Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya‘s U.N. deputy ambassador whose early defection to the opposition spurred defections around the world, said the announcement was made Thursday morning.

“Now, we are sure he took a position and he is no longer in the service of the regime,” Mr. Dabbashi told the Associated Press. “He is a little bit late. We expected him to take this position maybe 10 days ago or so, but anyway, it is never too late. It is good that he joined the Libyan people and to announce his defection of the regime.”

Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, the former Arab League representative in Cairo, said Mr. Treki had intended to announce his position three weeks ago but needed time.

Mr. al-Houni, who also resigned early in the Libyan uprising that began Feb. 15, also welcomed Mr. Koussa’s decision to resign and said more defections could be expected in coming days.

Koussa is one of the pillars of Gadhafi’s regime since the 1970s. His defection means that he knew that the end of Gadhafi is coming and he wanted to jump from the sinking boat.”

Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

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