France's ambassador to Tunisia apologised on Saturday for being abrupt with journalists at a recent press conference, after thousands of protesters gathered outside the embassy calling for him to quit over the incident.
Boillon, who arrived in Tunisia last week after a popular uprising forced President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali to step down in January, was dismissive of reporters' questions during a recent introductory press event.
At one point he pushed a reporter's microphone away while berating her, and then stormed off.
"I say I am sorry, I regret my words, I was stupid," Ambassador Boris Boillon said over state television. "I ask for the forgiveness of all Tunisians."
Video of the incident was widely diffused on the Internet, leading activists to protest outside the French embassy on Saturday, shouting slogans like "Boris, Boris, quit" and "No to colonialism".
Tunisians see France's role as unhelpful. French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie is very unpopular in the North African country because she offered French support for Tunisian police in their efforts to put down the protests that led to the ouster of president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January. Dozens of protesters were killed.
She spent her December holidays in Tunisia, despite the country already being in the throes of an uprising. While there, she had the use of a plane owned by a businessman linked to Ben Ali's regime.
AgenciesGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Şubat 2011, 10:24