TRIPOLI, April 12 (Reuters) - Libya has picked a successor to Moussa Koussa as head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, six weeks after Koussa took over as foreign minister.
Libya experts had wondered whether Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi would let Koussa keep his position as spymaster alongside his job as foreign minister, or would trim his influence by distancing him from the intelligence agencies.
The new spy chief is Abu Zaid Omar Dourdaa, a former deputy prime minister and a staunch Gaddafi supporter, officials said.
The Foreign Intelligence Service has been one of Gaddafi’s main tools for spreading his influence in Africa and beyond. It was prominent in combating dissidents based abroad and in a confrontation with the West that lasted almost three decades.
But it was also instrumental in helping Libya out of isolation and back into mainstream international politics. It worked on British and U.S. intelligence to convince London and Washington that Tripoli wanted normal relations.
Dourdaa, 65, is widely known in Tripoli as an intellectual and is credited with good management skills.
He was successively a provincial governor, a culture minister, deputy foreign minister, economy and farming minister, a deputy speaker of parliament and deputy prime minister.
He was also Libya’s envoy to the United Nations in New York before becoming the country’s railway company head and then managing director of the government’s largest housing projects.
Libya’s Foreign Intelligence Service cooperates closely with U.S. and other Western spying bodies to fight al Qaeda in North and Sub Sahara Africa, where Libya enjoys some influence. (Writing by Lamine Ghanmi; Editing by Jonathan Wright)