A host of senior Libyan diplomats in Asia deserted the tottering regime of Moamer Kadhafi on Tuesday, voicing outrage at the killing of civilians and the use of the air force against demonstrators.
Top officials in Australia, China, India and Malaysia have severed ties with the leadership, saying the killing has gone too far and Kadhafi had lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the people.
“My resignation is because of the massive violence against civilians in my country,” Libya’s envoy to India, Ali al-Essawi, told AFP in New Delhi.
“Yesterday they started to use airplanes to bomb civilians demonstrating peacefully. This is unacceptable.”
He called on the international community and UN Security Council members meeting in New York later Tuesday to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya similar to the one imposed in 1991 on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War.
“The international community has to intervene to protect Libyans,” he said.
Elsewhere in Asia, Libya’s embassy in Australia was reported to have cut its ties with Tripoli, with the mission’s cultural counsellor Omran Zwed announcing the news to The Australian newspaper.
“We represent the Libyan people and no longer the Libyan regime,” he was quoted as saying.
In Malaysia, embassy staff condemned the “massacre” of anti-government protesters and said they were no longer loyal as some 200 Libyans staged an angry anti-government protest outside the embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
The noisy crowd burned pictures of the Libyan strongman and chanted “Kadhafi game over” before the mission opened its gate to allow them into the compound.
On Monday, a senior Libyan diplomat posted in China stepped down in an on-air interview with the Al-Jazeera news network, while there were unconfirmed reports Tuesday that the ambassador to Bangladesh had also deserted.
The diplomat in China, Hussein Sadiq al Musrati, “called on all diplomatic staff to resign” in an interview with Qatar-based Al-Jazeera.
Libyan diplomats at the United Nations have condemned Kadhafi as a “tyrant” and accused him of “genocide” as they called on him to stand down or be forced out of power.
And Libya’s permanent representative to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, on Sunday quit his post in order to “join the revolution” unfolding in his country.
Despite a brief 22-second television appearance on Monday, Kadhafi’s grip on the country appears increasingly shaky as loyalists quit. Several fighter pilots have also defected after being ordered to fire on demonstrators.
The uprising has spread to the capital, with gunfire rattling Tripoli, where protesters attacked police stations and the offices of the state broadcaster — Kadhafi’s mouthpiece — and set government buildings ablaze.
Human rights groups say the Libyan government’s crackdown has killed between 200 and 400. Residents of two districts in Tripoli said by telephone there had been “a massacre,” with gunmen “firing indiscriminately” in Tajura district.
[-by Adam Plowright]