Libya's oil chief Ghanem defects, now in Rome

Wed Jun 1, 2011 3:25pm GMT
 

ROME, June 1 (Reuters) - Libya's National Oil Corp head Shokri Ghanem said on Wednesday he had defected from Muammar Gaddafi's government but had not yet decided whether to join anti-Gaddafi rebels.

Speaking at a news conference in Rome organised by the Libyan ambassador, who has also defected, Ghanem said he had left his job because of the "unbearable" violence in Libya.

He said he still saw some possibility of a peaceful settlement to decide the fate of the Gaddafi rule, which he had left because of the "daily spilling of blood" he had witnessed in Libya.

Ghanem, who is one of the most senior Libyan officials to have defected, said he supported "Libyan youth fighting for a constitutional state".

Ghanem, whose whereabouts had been unknown for several days, also said oil production in Libya is coming to a halt because of the international embargo.

He added that in future he would not be representing Libya at OPEC, where he is usually the leader of the country's delegation.

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