afrol News, 22 February - The private pilot of Moammar Ghaddafi, a Norwegian citizen, says he wants to leave Libya as soon as possible, but may have to wait for the Libyan leader.
57-year-old Odd Birger Johansen for the last year has been the pilot of the private jet of Colonel Ghaddafi. He is now in Tripoli, together with his wife and daughter that had chosen this unhappy moment to visit him for a holiday in Libya.
Mr Johansen today spoke to the private Norwegian broadcaster 'TV2' - using a Skype phone as mot other communications were closed down. The pilot said he wants to evacuate Libya as soon as possible.
However, he told 'TV2', "I am under contract, so I have to follow up on that if there should be a need for my services. But right now, the way I feel it is that things are burning around me ... and then I don't want to ... I am not a hero, I will go home," Mr Johansen concluded.
Mr Johansen, if able to leave, would not be the first to desert Colonel Ghaddafi. Several pilots already have fled the country, both from military aircrafts and from Libya's civilian airline.
These pilots have given shocking statements about Colonel Ghaddafi's plans to strike back against protesters. Two military pilots, defecting with their jets in Malta, said they had been ordered to bomb civilians in Benghazi. A defected civilian pilot today confirmed that the airliner Afriqiyah was transporting "hundreds of mercenaries from Africa" to various protest hotspots in Libya.
During the last three days, a
Tripoli resident filming riots in the streets from his window
round nine Libyan top diplomats have either resigned or cancelled their loyalty to Colonel Ghaddafi. This includes the Libyan mission to the UN, now trying to lobby the world body for tough sanctions against the Ghaddafi regime.
Even ministers have left Mr Ghaddafi's government in disgust over the violence against the protesters. Yesterday, Libya's Justice Minister resigned; today the Minister of the Interior stepped down, calling on the armed forces not to accept orders to shoot at civilians.
Equally vital, several of Libya's major tribes - still very powerful units in the country - have cancelled their loyalty to the Libyan leader. The chief of the Warfallah – Libya's most populous and powerful tribe - said he backed the protesters and would send his people to Tripoli to assist in the final battle. Other tribal leaders have followed up.
Also, large parts of the army, revolutionary guard and police have deserted their leader, either by laying down their arms or even joining and arming the protesters.
Finally, the majority of the Libyan population has turned its face against its non-elected leader. Most of the country is now in the hands of protesters, while even the streets of Tripoli now are dominated by protesters, calling for Mr Ghaddafi to step down.
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