(AFP) – May 19, 2011
TRIPOLI — The Libyan government denied reports that Moamer Kadhafi's wife and daughter had fled to Tunisia and that Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem had defected.
Kadhafi's wife Sofia "is fine, in good health and she is in Tripoli," government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told a press conference, without referring to statements to the contrary by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
His daughter Aisha "is also in Tripoli," Ibrahim said, adding: "They have not left the country."
Concerning Ghanem, reports of whose defection have been going the rounds for several days, Ibrahim said the oil minister was on a mission in Tunisia followed by a European tour and then a visit to Egypt.
"From what we know, he is continuing to work, he's still a Libyan official," the spokesman declared.
Earlier Thursday, the Tunisian authorities had categorically denied reports that members of Kadhafi's family had arrived in the country.
"These reports are totally false," said a government source in Tunis, stressing "no member of the Kadhafi family has crossed the Tunisian border" with Libya.
Oil Minister Ghanem, a veteran of Kadhafi's regime, at the weekend crossed from Libya into neighbouring Tunisia, a Tunisian official said, although there had been no confirmation.
Ghanem, also chairman of Libya's national oil company, had been due to attend a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries but has made no comment since he left Libya and his whereabouts are unclear.
Press reports said he had defected. If confirmed, Ghanem would be among the most senior officials to abandon Kadhafi's government since the revolt erupted.
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