Libya's Koussa speaks for first time since fleeing

The highest profile insider to break with Moammar Gadhafi's regime since Libya's conflict began warned on Monday that the country risked becoming engulfed in civil war like Somalia.

Ex-foreign minister Moussa Koussa, making his first public statement since he fled Tripoli, quit his post and arrived in Britain on March 30, called on Gadhafi and the country's opposition to show restraint.

"I ask everybody, all the parties, to work to avoid taking Libya into a civil war. This will lead to bloodshed and make Libya a new Somalia," said Koussa, who has spent almost two weeks at an undisclosed location in interviews with British intelligence officers and diplomats.

Britain's Foreign Office said Koussa is not being detained by authorities, but have repeatedly declined to discuss the details of his debriefings or comment on his whereabouts.

The former Gadhafi loyalist read a prepared statement to the BBC's Arabic language television channel and did not take any questions. The BBC did not disclose where it had filmed Koussa.

Koussa did not make any explicit criticism of Gadhafi, but said he had quit after he became increasingly concerned over recent events. He confirmed he now has no contact with the dictator's Tripoli regime.

"My country lives in a difficult time. It's the worst. When the Libyans started to lose security and stability I decided to resign," Koussa said.

Also an ex-Libyan intelligence chief, Koussa said that for more than 30 years had been devoted to his work for Gadhafi and confident he had been serving the Libyan public.

"But after recent events things changed and I couldn't continue. That's why I took this decision. Not because I'm waiting for anything, but because I know that what I did to resign will cause me problems, but I'm ready to make that sacrifice for the sake of my country," Koussa said.

He rejected suggestions of dividing Libya between the rebel-held east and Gadhafi's strongholds in the country's west, calling instead for talks between the regime and opposition.

"We refuse to divide Libya. The unity of Libya is essential to any solution and any settlement in Libya," Koussa said, according to a translation provided by the BBC. "The solution in Libya will come from the Libyans themselves, through discussion and democratic dialogue."

Koussa also called on the United Nations to help deliver food, medicine and aid to the Libyan people.

"We hope the Security Council will take a humanitarian responsibility," he said.

Last week, Scottish prosecutors interviewed Koussa as a witness over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people — most of them Americans. Libya acknowledged responsibility for the terrorist attack in 2003, and opposition leaders have long claimed Koussa was closely involved.

Koussa acknowledged he had previously worked closely with overseas intelligence agencies as the West sought to return Libya to the international fold in the 1990s, following terror attacks that tainted the North African country's reputation.

"I personally have relations, and good relations, with so many Britons. We worked together against terrorism and we succeeded. We worked together to avoid terrorism and we worked together to dismantle weapons of mass destruction," he said. "It is a great job, it is great work and it makes the world safer."