Friday, 6 March 2009

Libyan intelligence chief named FM in reshuffle

Libyan strongman and long-time secret service chief Mussa Kussa was named foreign minister in a ministerial reshuffle announced by parliament on Wednesday. (...)

Kussa, 59, replaces Abdel Rahman Shalgham who held the post for eight years and will now represent Libya at the UN Security Council. (...)

The new cabinet list saw three newcomers at the telecommunications, health and education ministries while several others were abolished or absorbed into other ministries.

The major change was the appointment of Kussa, a loyal servant to Kadhafi who has been the head of the north African state's secret service for 15 years.

He has been involved in all the negotiations and policy shifts that have seen the one-time pariah state return to the international fold.

After starting his career as a security specialist for Libyan embassies in Europe, Kussa became ambassador to London in 1980 -- but was kicked out that year for declaring his determination to liquidate "enemies of the revolution" on British soil.

A strongman on the Libyan revolutionary committee which forms the backbone of Kadhafi's regime, Kussa has been in charge of major foreign policy affairs such as Africa and Libya's relations with the West.

In particular, he played a key role in reaching deals to compensate the victims of the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and bombing of a French airliner the following year, removing one of the biggest obstacles to building bridges with the West.

[From a report on the website of news agency Agence France Presse. The full text can be read here.]

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